The USS Edson (DD-946) remained on the Navy list for three decades in the mid-to-late 20th century. She was named for Major General Merritt Austin Edson who served with the Marine Corps in World War I and World War II. Edson was commissioned as a Forrest Sherman class destroyer.
Edson was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in December 1956, launched in January 1958, and commissioned in April 1959 with Commander Thomas J. Moriarty in command. Carrying a crew of 324, Edson was 418 feet, six inches in length and armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, four three-inch rapid fire guns, and two anti-submarine mortars. The destroyer was driven by geared turbines supporting a cruising speed of 33 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 20 knots.
Edson sailed to various Caribbean ports during her shakedown training and, in February 1959, delivered supplies at Callao, Peru for the United States Embassy in Lima. In March, Edson arrived at Long Beach, California and was based there while conducting exercises along the west coast. Edson was deployed to the Far East in January 1960, where she was assigned to patrols in the Taiwan Straits and operations off Okinawa. The destroyer also participated in various fleet exercises off Japan.
Edson rescued three downed aviators from aircraft carrier Ranger off Okinawa in late April, and then returned to Long Beach at the end of May. The destroyer underwent an overhaul that was completed in late October, and then assumed training operations off San Diego. Edson was deployed once again to the western Pacific from August 1961 to January 1962, as well as from March to October 1964, when she served in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War.
Edson returned to Vietnam from October 1965 to April 1966, as well as again in 1967, 1968, and in the early 1970s. Decommissioned in December 1988, Edson was struck from the Navy list in January 1989 and then transferred to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. Edson was returned to the Navy in 2004 and remained at Philadelphia as of 2006.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Edson (DD-946)
Naval ships such as Edson used asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) as a material as insulation and fireproofing on their boilers and heavy equipment. The mineral was also added to pipe coverings and cements used on board. As asbestos was used in hundreds of applications, the toxic fibers could be found nearly everywhere on Edson. Veterans of this ship have a higher than normal chance to develop mesothelioma.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers is an established cause of a number of other serious or deadly diseases as well, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural plaques, and pleural thickening. As asbestos exposure is a known cause of these conditions, there are usually legal options for sailors diagnosed with them. Compensation for asbestos injuries can help defray the high cost of treatment and provide financial security for a veteran’s family.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-946.
NavSource Naval History. USS Edson (DD-946).
USS Edson DD-946 Association. History of the USS Edson – DD-946.