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USS Cushing (DD-797)

Construction

Cushing was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in May 1943, launched in September, and commissioned in January 1944 with Commander Louis F. Yolk in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Cushing was 376 feet five inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.

Naval History

Cushing served as a convoy escort from Pearl Harbor to Eniwetok and then received an overhaul of her anti-submarine systems at Bremerton, Washington. In late-August, she sailed for the Palau Islands and protected the aircraft carriers that launched strikes during various operations in the Philippines. Cushing also engaged in combat with Japanese aircraft at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October.

Cushing returned to the Philippines in January 1945 and then served as a radar picket during the strikes on Japan. Cushing operated during the strikes on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, where she conducted radar picket operations and fighter direction. In August, Cushing operated as a harbor entrance vessel at Sagami Wan, and then arrived on the west coast in November.

Cushing was out of commission in reserve from February 1947 until August 1951 at Long Beach, California. Re-assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Cushing operated in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean until being deployed to Korea as a plane guard in January 1953. This service concluded with a cruise around the world before Cushing arrived at Norfolk, Virginia in 1954.

Cushing’s next deployment to the Pacific began in January 1956, which involved several tours of duty to the Far East for anti-submarine exercises and patrols of the Taiwan Straits. She also conducted battle exercises off the west coast. In October 1960, Cushing changed home ports to Charleston, South Carolina, and was decommissioned at Norfolk, Virginia in November. Cushing was loaned to Brazil in 1961 as Parana, struck from the U.S. Navy list in 1973, and was broken up for scrap in 1982.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Cushing (DD-797)

Builders and manufacturers began employing asbestos-containing materials in the 19th century because it was well-suited for industrial applications. Asbestos fireproofing has been installed aboard civilian and military ships like Cushing since the 1930s. Ships contain numerous pieces of equipment that produce large quantities of thermal heat, including boilers and turbines. The engine and power generating rooms aboard the USS Cushing were constructed with asbestos to insulate conduits, to line steam boilers, and to fireproof parts of the engines or steam turbines.

Most crewmen stationed or performing repair work on Cushing were most likely exposed to asbestos to one degree or another. Some jobs possessed a higher risk of exposure, particularly those working with fire, firearms or heat generating equipment like boilers. When working with asbestos, tiny fibers can easily become airborne and the risk for inhaling them is great if no protective gear is worn. Inhaling asbestos over an extended period of time can result in the development of mesothelioma, a serious form of asbestos cancer.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-797.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd797txt.htm

NavSource Naval History. Cushing (DD-797).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/797.htm

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