The USS Dennis J. Buckley (DD-808) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Fireman First Class Dennis Joseph Buckley, Jr. who won a Silver Star in World War II. Dennis J. Buckley was laid down as a Gearing-class destroyer.
Dennis J. Buckley was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in July 1944, launched in December, and commissioned in March 1945 with Commander Kinloch C. Walpole in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Dennis J. Buckley was 390 feet six inches long and armed with six 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Dennis J. Buckley arrived in the western Pacific for occupation duty in December 1945. During this deployment, Dennis J. Buckley operated in the Mariana Islands and the Philippines, and returned to the United States in April 1946. The destroyer embarked on a second tour of the Far East in 1947, during which she served off the coast of China and during fleet exercises off Okinawa. Dennis J. Buckley also conducted patrols at Tsingtao, China during civilian evacuations in 1948.
Dennis J. Buckley ended this tour of duty with a round-the-world cruise, accompanied by Tarawa and Hawkins, which ended at New York in February 1949. Operating briefly on the west coast, Dennis J. Buckley resumed services along the east coast in April and then embarked on a six-month cruise to northern Europe. Dennis J. Buckley served three tours of duty in the Mediterranean Sea between 1952 and 1955 and operated as a training vessel for midshipmen and reservists in the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. She also took part in air defense exercises at these locations.
In May 1956, Dennis J. Buckley returned to the Pacific Fleet and was deployed to the Far East from July to October. Dennis J. Buckley conducted patrols off Taiwan and served as flagship of Commander, Destroyer Flotillas, western Pacific during a visit by the Chief of Naval Operations on her second Far East tour. Dennis J. Buckley underwent an FRAM overhaul in 1964, was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in July 1973, and then was sold for scrap to the Levin Metals Corporation in April 1974.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Dennis J. Buckley (DD-808)
Beginning around the time of the Industrial Revolution, asbestos was employed heavily in factory sites both in the construction of buildings and in machinery. Navy ships like the USS Dennis J. Buckley also used asbestos products in a variety of applications, especially as insulation in the engineering sections, since the early 20th century. Engines and boilers generate a great deal of heat, and for many years these pieces of equipment were built with asbestos-containing material because it was a good fire-retardant and insulator. Asbestos could also be found on steam boilers, pumps, and engines.
Because asbestos was used in so many places on the ship, most of the crew ran the risk of exposure to the substance at some point during their service. Some crewmen suffered from a higher degree of asbestos contamination; particularly those who worked with engineering equipment, handled repair work, or fought fires. When asbestos insulation is damaged or worn, individual asbestos fibers may become separated from the body of material and enter the air, where they can easily be breathed in. This is what has been known to cause mesothelioma, a serious form of asbestos cancer, and a risk faced by those serving on the USS Dennis J. Buckley.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-808.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd808txt.htm) Retrieved 18 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. Dennis J. Buckley (DD-808).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/808.htm) Retrieved 18 February 2011.