The USS Du Pont (DD-941) was on the Navy list for over three decades in the mid-to-late 20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont who served in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and as the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Du Pont was a member of the Forrest Sherman class of destroyers.
Du Pont was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in May 1955, launched in September 1956, and commissioned in July 1957 with Commander William J. Maddocks in command. Carrying a crew of 324, Du Pont was 418 feet, six inches long and armed with four three-inch rapid fire guns, two anti-submarine mortars, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes.
Du Pont was deployed on a midshipman training cruise in July 1958 and carried out anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic. In September, Du Pont sailed to the Mediterranean for duty with the 6th Fleet and participated in air defense as well as anti-submarine warfare exercises. The destroyer returned to Norfolk, Virginia in March 1959 and then took part in Operation Inland Sea for the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Du Pont sailed to England in August and September 1959 and during this deployment, operated as a plane guard during the trans-Atlantic flight of President Eisenhower. The destroyer served another tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in 1960, and underwent overhaul at Norfolk beginning at the end of August.
Du Pont took part in the blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and was deployed during the Vietnam War from June 1967 to January 1968. She was decommissioned from May 1969 to May 1970. Mediterranean and Middle East deployments followed, and in 1976, Du Pont participated in the Shellback Initiation in the Indian Ocean. Du Pont also was part of this operation in the Atlantic in 1977. The destroyer was then on call in Brazil during the summer of 1977.
Du Pont was active in the U.S. Navy until she was decommissioned in March 1983, and then was struck from the Navy list in June 1990. The destroyer was sold for scrap in January 1993.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Du Pont (DD-941)
Because material contaminated with asbestos was found all over Du Pont, essentially all her crew ran the risk of exposure during the course of their career. Crewmen performing repairs and maintenance duties often had greater exposure than sailors with other assignments. Dry dock and yard personnel were also at risk of being exposed to high levels of asbestos-containing materials. When inhaled or ingested, tiny asbestos particles can become stuck in the respiratory tract and eventually result in mesothelioma.
The crew that oversaw Du Pont’s 1960 overhaul likely suffered some of the worst exposure. This is because removing and replacing existing asbestos products is very hazardous, as such materials easily release individual asbestos fibers into the air. At the time this overhaul was performed, the full dangers of asbestos exposure were not yet commonly known. Many crew assigned to this work were not adequately protected from exposure.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-941.
NavSource Naval History. USS Du Pont (DD-941).
Hullnumber.com. USS Du Pont.