The USS Clarence K. Bronson (DD-668) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for over a decade and a half in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Clarence King Bronson, an aviation specialist in the Navy during the early 1900s. Clarence K. Bronson was designed as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Clarence K. Bronson was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in December 1942, launched in April 1943, and commissioned in June with Commander W. S. Veeder in command. Supporting a crew complement of 273, Clarence K. Bronson was 376 feet, five inches long and armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Clarence K. Bronson was deployed to Pearl Harbor in November 1943 and served primarily in Hawaiian waters until January 1944. She then operated as a screening vessel during the invasion of Kwajalein, and for the troop landings at the Bismarck Archipelago in late March. Clarence K. Bronson also participated in strikes on Palau, Woleai, and Yap and then protected forces at New Guinea in late April. Dry docked at Majuro in May, Clarence K. Bronson returned to battle at Saipan and then guarded aircraft carriers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June.
Clarence K. Bronson continued this duty for raids on several Japanese bases through January 1945, as well as for strikes on Tokyo and the assault on Iwo Jima, where she also conducted anti-submarine patrols in March. She returned from an overhaul on the West Coast in July and joined the occupation of Japanese waters until December. Clarence K. Bronson was placed in reserve at Charleston, South Carolina in July 1946.
Reactivated in June 1951, Clarence K. Bronson operated in the Atlantic until being deployed to Korea in July 1953. In November, the destroyer made a cruise around the world and arrived at Rhode Island in January 1954. Serving in the Caribbean, and with NATO in the North Atlantic, Clarence K. Bronson was also used as an engineering school ship. Clarence K. Bronson operated with the Underwater Sound Laboratory in 1958 and was used for naval reserve training in 1959. She was decommissioned at Orange, Texas in June 1960, loaned to Turkey in January 1967, and used for scrap in 1987.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Clarence K. Bronson (DD-668)
Beginning in the late 1800s, the heat and fire resistant mineral known as asbestos found wide use in industrial sites. It was also employed in the design and construction of both merchant and naval ships like Clarence K. Bronson. Asbestos insulation was installed nearly everywhere on board navy ships and in shipyards by the Navy until a ban in the late 1970s. Breathing in asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is often not detected until it has progressed to advanced stages and for which there is no cure.
Asbestos inhalation is greatly facilitated if the asbestos has become friable. "Friable" means that discrete asbestos fibers in the insulation become torn off from the surrounding material where they can be breathed in or ingested. Some crewmen suffered from a higher degree of exposure to friable asbestos; sailors assigned in the engineering sections, handling machinery, putting out fires, or conducting repairs were considerably more likely to inhale or ingest asbestos and be at risk for developing asbestos related diseases.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-668.
NavSource Naval History. USS Clarence K. Bronson (DD-668).