The USS Decatur (DD-5) was a Bainbridge-class destroyer deployed by the United States during the early decades of the Twentieth Century. She was named for Captain Stephen Decatur (1779-1820), noteworthy for having been the youngest naval officer to attain that rank.
Decatur was actually the second vessel of her class to be launched when she was completed in late September of 1900 and launched from the shipyard of the William R. Trigg Company of Richmond, Virginia.
The Bainbridge-class vessels represented a new step in the evolution of naval warfare. The modern destroyer developed in response to the advent of small torpedo boats that were first deployed during the American Civil War; these deadly vessels were able to slip into a harbor and torpedo larger warships helpless at anchor.
Initially, destroyers were used to guard the entrance of these harbors. However, a newly-industrialized Japan was able to design, construct and launch an all-steel destroyer in 1885 that was capable of escorting a flotilla of larger warships into the open ocean. This forced other navies of the world to expand the role of the new torpedo-boat destroyer, a role these versatile craft would perform through the end of the First World War.
After her launch, Decatur was assigned to the First Torpedo Flotilla out of Norfolk, along with her sister ship USS Dale (DD-4). After several months of drills and battle exercises off the Atlantic Coast, the Flotilla was ordered to Cavite Naval Base in the Philippines. Decatur remained in the South China Sea for the next several years as the U.S. monitored the deteriorating conditions in China, protecting American commercial interests in that country. Decatur was also one of the first U.S. Naval vessels to visit Saigon, in what was then French Indochina (now Vietnam) during May of 1908.
In August of 1917, Decatur and her sister Bainbridge-class destroyers were ordered to the Atlantic as U.S. involvement in World War I escalated. Decatur was assigned to the U.S. Patrol Squadron out of Gibraltar for the purpose of escorting merchant convoys in and out of the Mediterranean.
Decatur sailed for home in December 1918. She reported to the Philadelphia Navy Yard the following February, was decommissioned in June of 1919. The Decatur, along with eleven of her sister ships, were sold as surplus in 1920 to Joseph Hitner of Philadelphia. Hitner's company specialized in converting these former warships into freight carriers.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Decatur (DD-5)
Asbestos was not used generally throughout vessel construction until the 1930s; however the steam engines – which required frequent maintenance – were built with substantial amounts of asbestos in their insulation and gasket materials. The installation and maintenance of the boilers and engines on ships like the Decatur exposed crewmen and dockyard workers to high levels of asbestos fibers, a deadly substance which is the main cause of diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.
Other service branches had asbestos exposure as well, but mesothelioma navy cases are the most common because asbestos was so widely used in the engine rooms and compartments of navy ships. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but mesothelioma treatment can prolong life and reduce pain. For a complete mesothelioma information packet about legal and medical options, fill in the form on this page and we will be glad to send you this free information packet right away, at no cost to you.Sources
Haislip, Harvey USN (Ret.) A Memory of Ships. U.S. Naval Institute (Sept. 1977)
NA. "Dale ." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/d1/dale-ii.htm Retrieved 26 November 2010.