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USS Clark (DD-361)

The USS Clark (DD-361) was a Porter-class destroyer named for Rear Admiral Charles E Clark. Clark was notable for racing the battleship Oregon around Cape Horn in order to help destroy the Spanish fleet at Santiago, Cuba in 1898.

Construction

The eight Porter-class destroyers were specifically built for action in the Pacific. The Japanese were building large ships, and the Porters were designed to respond to the threat. The Porters resembled small cruisers because of their heavy armament and the arrangement of their guns, carrying eight 5” guns in twin mounts. This later proved to be top-heavy, so later modifications subtracted some of the guns and added anti-aircraft guns and dual-purpose (surface and air) twin mounts.

Clark was laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts on 2 January, 1934. She was 381 feet long, had a maximum speed of 35 knots, and carried a crew of 194 officers and enlisted.

Naval History

Clark was launched on 15 October, 1935 and commissioned on 20 May, 1936 under the command of Commander L. H. Thebaud. Until the outbreak of the war, she conducted routine patrols in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean, usually as a squadron or division flagship. Beginning in 1940 the USS Clark’s home port was Pearl Harbor. The ship was undergoing an overhaul in San Diego, however, when the Japanese attacked and she did not participate in the battle.

Clark left San Diego in late December, 1941 to escort ships back to Pearl Harbor, and then set out for the South Pacific. She went on anti-submarine patrols in Pago Pago and Samoa, completed screening duty for air raids on Japanese positions in New Guinea, and escorted ships from Auckland, New Zealand to San Francisco.

Clark was designated the flagship of the Commander, Southeast Pacific Force, in late December 1942, and was then based out of the Panama Canal Zone. For almost a year and a half Clark escorted ships out of various Latin American ports across the Pacific before an overhaul in late 1944. The ship spent the remainder of the war escorting convoys across the Atlantic. She was finally mothballed and decommissioned in Philadelphia in October 1945. Clark was struck from the naval list the following month and was scrapped in March 1946.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Clark (DD-361)

Since late in the 1800s, asbestos was extensively used in industrial and factory settings because of the substance's resistance to corrosion, fireproof nature, and usefulness in insulation. In the wake of a fatal fire that struck an American passenger ship in the early 1930s, the Federal government ordered the installation of asbestos-containing insulation as well as other safety measures in the design of all oceangoing ships, including the USS Clark. Starting in the 1930s and until the late 1970s, asbestos insulation was used widely in the construction of American ships to line conduits, to cover boilers, and to fireproof components of ship's motors and power plants. Today's military and civilian craft and dockyards no longer use asbestos, following the ban on asbestos-containing materials that took effect in the late 1970s.

The incidence of peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma is known to be associated strongly with the amount and duration of exposure to asbestos fibers. Those subjected regularly to airborne asbestos over a long period of time have a high risk of developing mesothelioma. Navy veterans who served on the USS Clark or other naval vessels may have been exposed to asbestos and could be at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease.

Sources

Sources

USS Clark (DD-361), Porter-class Destroyer Leader.
http://www.destroyerhistory.org/goldplater/ussclark.html Retrieved 5 January 2011.

Porter-class Destroyer Leaders in World War II.
http://www.destroyerhistory.org/goldplater/porterclass.html Retrieved 5 January 2011.

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