Resources for Patients and their Families

USS David R. Ray (DD-971)

The USS David R. Ray (DD-971) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two and a half decades at the end of the 20th century. She was named for David R. Ray, a U.S. Navy officer killed during the Vietnam War. David R. Ray was built as a Spruance-class ship.


David R. Ray was laid down in Pascagoula, Mississippi by Litton Ingalls in September 1974. She was launched in August 1975 and commissioned in November 1977. David R. Ray carried a crew of 296 and offered a cruising speed of 30 knots. She was armed with two five-inch 54 RFs, one Sea Sparrow missile, and six 12.75-inch MK 32s. She also featured a helicopter.

Naval History

David R. Ray began her tenure in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Ocean. In 1979, the ship made history by becoming the first vessel to successfully intercept a supersonic drone with the NATO Sea Sparrow missile system.

In 1983, David R. Ray was sent to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. There, she patrolled as part of Battle Group ALFA and participated in a joint exercise with the navy of South Korea. The following year, David R. Ray was officially associated with the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system, a major Navy foray into missile testing. The remainder of the 1980s included another deployment to the Pacific and a major overhaul to receive a vertical launch system.

In 1990, David R. Ray was deployed to the Persian Gulf as Iraq invaded Kuwait. She was thus in the region to support the initial actions of Operation Desert Shield. After a return to the US, the vessel returned to the Middle East in 1992 with Maritime Interception Force Operations. She made a third trip in 1999 as part of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group.

In March 1999, David R. Ray was assigned to sink the commercial tanker New Carissa due to environmental concerns following a shipwreck. The destroyer fired strategically on the damaged vessel, working with a sister ship, Bremerton, to sink New Carissa. The following year, David R. Ray participated in a counter-narcotic operation in the Caribbean.

In 2002, David R. Ray was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list. She was sunk as a target in 2008.

Asbestos Risk on the USS David R. Ray (DD-971)

Rapid changes in industry in the 19th century resulted in the invention of boilers, steam engines, and other heavy equipment that required the utilization of asbestos insulation. Civilian and naval vessels such as the USS David R. Ray used asbestos products as a material for insulation for their engineering applications starting around 1930.

Crew members repairing ship's machinery were more heavily exposed, as were sailors serving in repair crews. Asbestos which is frayed or damaged is the most harmful because tiny fibers can be inhaled by those working with it or in the nearby vicinity. This type of exposure has been linked to mesothelioma cancer in many navy veterans.

As exposure to asbestos is currently the only origin of malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related conditions, there are often legal options available for those who have developed these diseases. Our team has created a complete mesothelioma information kit to help those affected understand their options. Simply submit your request through the form on this page and we will mail you a kit, at no cost.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


NavSource Naval History, USS David R. Ray (DD-971).
( Retrieved 5 March 2011.

Navy Site, USS David R. Ray (DD-971).
( Retrieved 5 March 2011.