The USS Dickerson (DD-157) served in the US Navy for more than two-and-a-half decades in the early 20th century, and received six battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Mahlon Dickerson, a Governor and United States Senator from New Jersey. Dickerson was built as a Wickes-class vessel.
Dickerson was laid down in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Company in May 1918, launched in March 1919, and commissioned in September with Commander F.V. McNair in command. Carrying a crew of 103, Dickerson had a cruising speed of 35 knots and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Dickerson was assigned to operations along the east coast, and participated in fleet maneuvers off of South America in 1921. In June 1922, Dickerson was taken out of commission at New York Navy Yard until May 1930, when she was assigned to the east coast and the Caribbean. During this deployment, Dickerson participated in tactical exercises, torpedo training, and fleet maneuvers. Dickerson operated on the west coast in 1933 and 1934, and then at Norfolk Navy Yard in August as part of Rotating Reserve Squadron 19. She then served as a training ship for the Naval Reserve.
In 1938, Dickerson was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 10, Atlantic Squadron and served as a plane guard and participated in fleet landing exercises. Dickerson helped evacuate refugees from Casablanca as part of Squadron 40-T, and then was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol in 1940. During this deployment, Dickerson rescued six survivors of SS Libby Maine in September.
Dickerson was seriously damaged by SS Liberator, at the time unidentified, in March 1942, and lost four crew members, and then was repaired at Norfolk, Virginia before operating as a convoy escort along the east coast and Cuba. She escorted tanker convoys in Caribbean in 1943 as well as joined the Card hunter-killer group at Casablanca. Dickerson was converted to high-speed transport ship APD-21 at Charleston, South Carolina in August 1943.
Dickerson conducted escort and patrol duty in the Solomon Islands, landed troops in New Guinea, and supported the underwater demolition team for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon. In January 1946, Dickerson was part of the logistics support force for the Iwo Jima invasion and was attacked by kamikaze planes following the assault on Okinawa, which resulted in the deaths of 54 personnel, including the commanding officer. Damaged beyond repair, Dickerson was towed to Kerama Retto and sunk in April 1945.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Dickerson (DD-157)
Installing asbestos fireproofing in the design of naval vessels was required by the US Congress in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship killed more than 100 people. Dickerson, like most Navy ships at the time, made use of asbestos heavily around engines and engine rooms, as well as for fireproofing in the other sections of the ship. When asbestos becomes worn it becomes "friable", which means that individual fibers can break off and enter the surrounding air, and then are breathed in by sailors and shipfitters, increasing the chances of contracting mesothelioma. The damage caused by asbestos fibers happens when tiny fibers are breathed in or swallowed; they can invade the mesothelial lining and occasionally the stomach, causing scarring in the case of pleural plaques and damage at the DNA level in the case of malignant mesothelioma.
Since pleural mesothelioma usually progresses quickly to the advanced stages of the disease, and sometimes goes undiagnosed, a mesothelioma prognosis is often not favorable. Additionally, since mesothelioma is a rare condition, not all facilities and physicians are equipped to provide the best mesothelioma treatment. Patients who have been diagnosed with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma may need legal information and a professional mesothelioma lawyer can be a helpful resource.
We've also created a mesothelioma information package that details legal and medical options, as well as a list of mesothelioma clinics all over the U.S. Just submit the form on this page and we'll mail you the free kit.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-157. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd157txt.htm) Retrieved 24 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Dickerson (DD-157).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/157.htm) Retrieved 24 December 2010.