The USS Dyess (DD-880) served in the U.S. Navy for over three-and-a-half decades in the mid-to-late 20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Colonel Aquilla James Dyess who was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously for his service in the Marshall Islands during the Second World War. Dyess was commissioned as a member of the Gearing class of destroyers.
Dyess was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in August 1944, launched in January 1945, and commissioned in May with Commander Raymond L. Fulton in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Dyess was 390 feet, six inches long and armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Dyess was converted into a radar picket destroyer at Norfolk, Virginia after shakedown training, and was then deployed to Japan. The destroyer arrived at Tokyo Bay in December 1945 and began occupation duty with the 6th Fleet. Dyess returned to the United States and arrived at San Diego in December 1946, and then sailed to Norfolk for local training services until August.
Dyess remained off the east coast until she sailed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as an escort vessel for Missouri which carried President Harry S. Truman. Dyess escorted the ship back up to Norfolk and then escorted Presidential yacht Williamsburg to Washington D.C. In September 1947, the destroyer began training operations out of Newport, Rhode Island, and was then deployed to the Mediterranean from October 1947 to February 1948. Dyess then returned to Norfolk, and completed nine tours of duty in the Mediterranean by late 1958. These included exercises with NATO forces, training cruises, plane guard duty, and anti-submarine exercises.
Dyess helped evacuate American nationals from the Suez Canal area in 1956. East coast operations and service off Cuba occupied Dyess in 1959, and the destroyer changed home ports to Charleston, South Carolina in July. She conducted her tenth deployment to the Mediterranean from January to August 1960, and entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard in October. Dyess completed an FRAM overhaul by February 1965, was decommissioned in February 1981, and then was transferred to Greece in July for use as spare parts.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Dyess (DD-880)
The Navy installed asbestos extensively until the late 1970s to insulate and fireproof equipment on board all ships. The materials were found in nearly every compartment. Sailors were at risk for exposure to asbestos regardless of their duties and assignments.
Asbestos insulation was used in larger amounts in particular areas of Dyess. Because asbestos is such an excellent insulating material, it could be found wrapped around the steam pipes that ran throughout the ship and around equipment in the engine room. Sailors working with these systems had the greatest exposure.
When inhaled, microscopic asbestos fibers become stuck in the lungs and may eventually cause mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos is believed to cause an entire group of very serious or deadly conditions in addition to pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, including pleural thickening, lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural plaques. Compensation is often available for those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-880.
NavSource Naval History. Dyess (DD-880).