The USS Decatur (DD-341) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two and a half decades in the early 20th century, and received two battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Commodore Stephen Decatur who served in the Tripolitan War and the War of 1812. Decatur was built as a Clemson-class destroyer.
Decatur was laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in September 1920, launched in October 1921, and commissioned in August 1922 with Lieutenant C.K. Osborne in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Decatur was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Decatur was decommissioned at San Diego in January 1923, following trials, and was reactivated in September as the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11, Battle Fleet. Decatur operated along the west coast, off Hawaii, and in the Caribbean until 1937, during which time she was deployed to Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia in 1925, and surveyed the Mexican coast in 1926. In March 1930, Decatur brought the Haitian Commission to Santiago, Cuba.
Decatur was assigned to escort duty for President F.D. Roosevelt in Potomac in February 1937, and then conducted naval reserve training and neutrality patrol off the east coast until September 1941, when she was deployed for convoy and escort duty in Iceland. After sailing to Boston, Massachusetts in May 1942, Decatur was assigned to escort convoys along the east coast, and then operated between New York and Aruba and the Mediterranean beginning in February 1943.
Decatur joined an anti-submarine mission along with aircraft carrier Card in November 1943, and then escorted a convoy to Panama from New York in January to February 1944. Another convoy mission brought Decatur to Hampton Roads on the return trip, and then she operated as flagship of TF 64 during a convoy escort to Bizerte, Tunisia. The convoy successfully repelled a German submarine and aircraft strike in March.
Decatur served escort and training duty out of Norfolk, Virginia beginning in July 1944 until being deactivated at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard June 1945. She was decommissioned in July and sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Company in November.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Decatur (DD-341)
Since asbestos had so many uses, the dangerous fibers could be found nearly everywhere aboard Decatur. Most of her crew suffered exposure to the mineral during their service. Exposure was particularly abundant in engineering sections and in dockyards servicing the ship. Increased asbestos exposure has been shown to increase the risk for mesothelioma cancer.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-341.
NavSource Naval History, USS Decatur (DD-341).