Cushing was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in February 1977, launched in June 1978, and commissioned in September 1979 with Commander William C. Miller in command. Carrying a crew of 296, Cushing was 563 feet long, with a displacement of 7,800 tons. She was 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.
Cushing was the twenty-third Spruance-class destroyer to be built by Litton Industries in Pascagoula and spent much of her time in the Pacific and on the west coast. The destroyer visited Sydney, Australia in October 1984 and was present at Seattle, Washington in August 1986 and at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in April 1987. Cushing continued to travel up to the British Columbia coast into the early-1990s, and then was based at Pearl Harbor starting in 1991. In 1995, Cushing was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 5 with the reorganization of the Pacific Fleet.
Cushing was fitted with minehunting equipment in 1995, which was utilized during her service with the Kitty Hawk Battle Group in the fall of 1996. The destroyer demonstrated this system in the Arabian Gulf during an exercise in 1997. In March 1998, Cushing changed home ports to Yokosuka, Japan, and was assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15. From May to August, Cushing took part in an exercise with the navies of several Southeast Asian countries.
In March 1999, Cushing took part in another multi-national exercise, which involved live missile firings with the 7th Fleet, off the Mariana Islands. This exercise included Oklahoma City as a target. Cushing operated during an exercise with combined forces from the Republic of Korea and the United States, in the fall of 1999. In January 2001, Cushing became the first ship of Destroyer Squadron 15 to be honored with the Silver Enlisted Surface Warfare Excellence Pennant.
Cushing was then used extensively for personnel training, and received various weapons and engineering upgrades from January to March 2001. The destroyer continued to deploy to Southeast Asia and the Middle East, was decommissioned at San Diego in September 2005, and sunk off Kauai, Hawaii in July 2008.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Cushing (DD-985)
Rapid changes in industry during the 1800s resulted in the development heavy equipment such as boilers and steam engines that demanded the utilization of asbestos products for heat and fireproofing. Asbestos was also found to be useful in building navy ships like the USS Cushing that contained similar equipment.
Turbines and engines create large amounts of heat, and for many years these devices used asbestos-containing materials as a primary means of insulation. The engineering and power generating compartments on Cushing used asbestos extensively to insulate steam pipes, to fireproof boilers, and to fireproof components of the ship's motors or power plant. Cushing was laid down towards the end of the period when the U.S. Navy still used asbestos. This placed her sailors at risk for asbestos exposure during the removal and replacing of asbestos materials.
Because asbestos-based insulation was used so commonly on board the USS Cushing, most of the crew ran the risk of asbestos exposure at one point or another. Crew members repairing and refitting engines and turbines experienced a potentially greater degree of exposure, as were sailors working in repair crews. Asbestos that gets inhaled into the lungs can cause mesothelioma.
If you served on the USS Cushing and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma you may request more information about the disease by filling out the form on this page.Sources