The USS Collett (DD-730) remained on the U.S. Navy list for three decades in the mid-20th century before being sold to Argentina. She was named for John Austin Collett who was killed in action early in World War II. Collett was laid down as an Allen M. Sumner class ship.
Collett was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in October 1943, launched in March 1944, and commissioned in May with Commander James D. Collett in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Collett was 376 feet, six inches in length and armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Collett began her service out of Pearl Harbor in October 1944 as a screening vessel for aircraft carriers. First assigned to duty in the Philippines, Collett then served during air attacks on the China Coast and then Japan, in addition to the Iwo Jima assault in February 1945 and Okinawa in April. Collett also aided in the sinking of Japanese submarine I-56. She returned to the United States following occupation duty off Japan, and remained active with the Pacific Fleet.
Collett was deployed during the Korean War, where she was assigned to patrol duty off Pusan and escorted cargo ships with military supplies. She also conducted bombardments before and during the invasion of Inchon in September 1950, for which she was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation. Collett served a second tour of duty during the Korean War from June 1951 to February 1952 and a third from August to April 1953.
Collett sailed on repeated deployments to the Far East after the Korean War ended, and received an FRAM upgrade in 1960. In July 1960, Collett collided with Ammen off Long Beach, California, and then underwent extensive repairs to her bow at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Collett was decommissioned in December 1970, struck from the Navy list in February 1974, and sold to Argentina in June. Renamed Piedra Buena, the former Collett was sunk during a missile exercise in 1988. Collett was awarded a total of 12 battle stars for her World War II and Korean War services.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Collett (DD-730)
Most servicemen stationed or performing repair work on Collett were likely exposed to asbestos-containing materials to one degree or another. Inhalation or ingesting of asbestos fibers is linked to the development of mesothelioma. Asbestos insulation damaged in combat was especially dangerous because it becomes "friable", which means individual fibers separate and become airborne.
The engineering and power plant sections on Collett utilized asbestos in large quantities as insulation for pipes, to cover boilers, and to fireproof parts of the ship's engines or power plant. Steam ducts covered in asbestos-based insulation ran into practically every section of the ship. Sailors doing damage control and firefighting often had the greatest exposure risk.
Because asbestos exposure is the primary known cause of mesothelioma, there are usually legal options for Naval personnel and civilian workers who have contracted these diseases.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-730.
NavSource Naval History. USS Collett (DD-30).