The USS Cogswell (DD-651) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century, and earned nine battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Captain James Kelsey Cogswell who served during the Spanish-American War. Cogswell was commissioned as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Cogswell was laid down at Bath, Maine by Bath Iron Works in February 1943, launched in June, and commissioned in August with Commander H.X. Deutermann in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Cogswell was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Cogswell was deployed to Pearl Harbor in December 1943 to prepare for battle service, and then joined Task Force 58 for operations in the Marshall Islands in January and February 1944. She protected aircraft carriers during raids on Truk and the Mariana Islands from mid-to-late February. Cogswell also protected carriers during the capture of Emirau Island, during raids on Palaus, Woleai, and Yap in late March and early April, and during the troop landings at Hollandia, New Guinea in late April.
Assigned to protecting carriers for the Marianas invasion, Cogswell aided in the bombardment of Guam, and then rejoined the force for the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June. Cogswell helped sink a Japanese convoy at Chichi Jima already struck by Allied aircraft, and then screened aircraft carriers for the invasion of Peleliu in September. She also operated during the Battle for Leyte Gulf and the Lingayen invasion.
Cogswell was overhauled on the west coast in early 1945, and then began radar picket duty off Okinawa in late May until the end of June. She then helped raid the Japanese islands until the war ended, and was taken out of commission at Charleston, South Carolina from April 1946 to January 1951. Cogswell was deployed to northern Europe from August 1952 to February 1953, and conducted patrol duty in the Taiwan Straits in August. Cruising around the world in March 1954, Cogswell joined the Pacific Fleet in December and alternated coastal duties with service in the Far East with the 7th Fleet. Cogswell was struck from the Navy list in October 1969, and then transferred to Turkey, where she was broken up for scrap in December 1980.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Cogswell (DD-651)
Factories started utilizing asbestos fibers late in the 19th century because it was highly well-suited for industrial applications. Asbestos insulation has been used aboard both naval and merchant vessels such as Cogswell since the early 1900s. Many sailors on board the ship were at risk of inhaling and ingesting of asbestos fibers which has been known to cause mesothelioma.
When ships have a long service history or undergo refits, much of the asbestos aboard may become friable. "Friable" means that individual mineral fibers in the material can be dislodged and sent into the air. Some crewmen experienced higher levels of asbestos exposure due to the nature of the work they performed such as mechanics working in the engine room or in other compartments that contained heavy duty equipment. Sailors working daily with frayed or damaged asbestos fibers over months or years of service have a much greater risk of developing mesothelioma than crewmen experiencing lesser amounts of exposure.Sources
SourcesHaze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-651.
NavSource Naval History. USS Cogswell (DD-651).