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USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974)

The USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974) served in the U.S. Navy for two decades in the late 20th century. She was named for Francois Joseph Paul, Marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse who served as an Admiral in the French Navy during the American Revolution. Comte de Grasse was a member of the Spruance class of destroyers.

Construction

Comte de Grasse was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in April 1975, launched in March 1976, and commissioned in August 1978 with Commander Frank J. Lugo in command. Supporting a crew complement of 296, Comte de Grasse was 563 feet in length and armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter.

Naval History

Comte de Grasse underwent training and weapons testing in 1978, and operated off Cuba in October and Puerto Rico in November. She left Newport, Virginia for the North Atlantic in September 1979 and operated at ports in France, Germany, and England in October before returning to the United States in November. In 1980, Comte de Grasse operated off Puerto Rico and then served in the Mediterranean from April to October.

Deployed to the Mediterranean twice in 1981, Comte de Grasse sailed to Norfolk in August 1982, but returned in September. Comte de Grasse operated with NATO forces and participated in various fleet exercises off Gibraltar and Norway. She was in dry dock for overhaul from October 1983 to July 1984 at Pascagoula, and then returned to Norfolk. From Newport, Rhode Island, Comte de Grasse was deployed to the Middle East from June to December 1985, where she operated in the Persian Gulf.

Comte de Grasse served in the Caribbean in 1986 and, from June to November 1987, was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. Weapons testing and type training followed in 1988, and Comte de Grasse served in the Mediterranean again from May to November 1989. She returned there in 1992 and 1994, after routine duties at home in 1990 and 1991. Comte de Grasse conducted various Caribbean operations in 1993.

Exercises and engineering work occupied Comte de Grasse for the rest of the 1990s, along with a European deployment in 1997. Comte de Grasse was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in June 1998, and was then sunk during a target exercise in June 2006.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974)

The engines and boilers aboard ships produce enormous amounts of heat and require significant insulation. Although a relatively modern ship, Comte de Grasse was built before the Navy fully switched to asbestos-free insulation. That means that sailors aboard the Comte de Grasse had some risk of exposure to this dangerous mineral. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

Personnel who regularly worked with asbestos-based insulation over a long period of time have a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma than sailors with mild levels of inhalation over a similar time frame, or a very high level of exposure in a brief time frame. There are usually legal options for Navy veterans injured by asbestos.

Sources

Sources

USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974). History of the USS Comte de Grasse.
http://www.navysite.de/dd/dd974hist.htm

NavSource Naval History. USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/974.htm

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