USS Cushing (DD-376) was a Mahan-class destroyer in the US Navy during World War II. She was the third of five naval vessels to be named in honor of Commander William Barker Cushing, an officer in the US Navy. Cushing is best known for conducting a nighttime raid on October 27, 1864, that sunk the Confederate ironclad CSS Albermarle.
Cushing was launched by Puget Sound Navy Yard on December 31, 1935. She was sponsored by Miss K.A. Cushing, who was the namesake’s daughter. Commander E.T. Short took command of Cushing on August 1936.
Following commissioning, Cushing was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. She assisted with the search of missing aviatrix Amelia Earhart before returning to San Diego, California for training exercises, fleet problems and tactics. For the next four years, she spent the majority of her time engaged in exercises and training along the west coast.
Cushing was undergoing an overhaul at Mare Island Navy Yard when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Following the attack, she sailed from San Francisco, California in order to provide escort duty between the west coast and Pearl Harbor. She continued to operate in this capacity until January 13, 1942. Cushing served on antisubmarine patrol until the beginning of February before returning to San Francisco to screen TF 1.
In early August, Cushing left San Francisco in route for training exercises in Pearl Harbor. She then joined in the operations taking place around Guadalcanal. On October 26, Cushing fought in the Battle of Santa Cruz, at which the outnumbered American force was able to turn a Japanese flotilla away from Guadalcanal.
Cushing continued to screen transports into Guadalcanal until mid-November. On November 13, she was part of the force that intercepted the Japanese fleet in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. After engaging in battle with three enemy destroyers, Cushing sustained numerous hits amidships. As a result, she gradually began to lose power while still firing upon the enemy ships. Early the next morning, the crew was ordered to abandon ship. Cushing ultimately sunk from the damage that was inflicted and 70 of her men were either killed or missing. The area where her hulk came to rest is now known as Ironbottom Sound.
Cushing received three battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Cushing (DD-376)
The use of asbestos fireproofing in the construction of naval ships was required by the US Congress in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on the SS Morro Castle caused the deaths of more than 100 passengers and crew. Ships like Cushing deployed asbestos-containing materials in large amounts, particularly in boilers and engine rooms, and for insulation in the other sections of the ship. When asbestos is damaged it can become friable, which means that individual asbestos fibers can be broken off and enter the surrounding air, where they can be breathed in by naval personnel and shipfitters, increasing the odds of developing mesothelioma. The mineral asbestos has long been known for its fireproofing properties, but it has also been proven to be the main factor in the development of life-threatening conditions such as pleural plaques and mesothelioma.
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Cushing. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/c16/cushing-iii.htm Retrieved 1 January 2011.