The USS Ericsson (DD-56) was constructed before the U.S. involvement in World War I. She was sponsored by Mrs. J. Washington Logue; her husband was a member of the speakers’ bureau of the Council of National Defense during World War I. She is the second ship to bear the name of John Ericsson, the man who built the first iron clad warship (USS Monitor).
Ericsson was laid down in November 1913 and launched on 22 August 1914. She was commissioned August 1915, under the command of Lieutenant Commander W. L. Pryor. She had four four-inch guns and sixteen twenty-one-inch torpedo tubes.
From October to December 1915 Ericsson trained on the Neutrality Patrol. By January 1916, Ericsson was working maneuvers with Key West and Guantanamo Bay as bases. In May 1916 she returned to Newport.
In October 1916 Ericsson sighted a German submarine by Nantucket Shoal Lightship attacking a convoy. The U-boat sunk a British merchantman, a Dutch merchantman and three other ships. Ericsson saved the British ship’s passengers and crew. Other destroyers rescued the survivors of the Dutch ship and those of the three other ships.
Ericsson carried out exercises in the Caribbean, New York City and Newport between January 1917 and March 1917. In May Ericsson sailed for Queenstown, Ireland, to join the American destroyer group. She began patrol duty in the war zone and immediately found a surfaced U-boat that was shelling two sailing ships. Ericsson began to fire upon the submarine, forcing it to descend and stopping the attack. She picked up 37 survivors of the sailing ships.
After June 1918, Ericsson was based out of Brest, France. She was overhauled in Liverpool at the close of the war; but was back in Brest to take part in welcoming honors rendered for President W. Wilson in December. She left for New York and arrived on January 8, 1919.
In May 1919, Ericsson sailed to the Azores to observe the historic first naval crossing of the Atlantic by Navy seaplanes. After the exercises, she entered New York Navy Yard for repairs and was placed on reserve, still in commission in August. She laid in reduced commission and put to sea in the summer of 1921. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia in June 1922, and transferred to the Treasury Department to serve in the Coast Guard in June 1924. She was returned to naval custody on May 23, 1932, and was scrapped on August 22, 1934, in accordance with a naval arms reduction treaty.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Ericsson (DD-56)
In ships of this era, asbestos was principally used to insulate and fireproof engines, boilers, pumps and generators. The sailors with the greatest risk of exposure worked below deck in engineering sections or operated the ship’s machinery. But since there is no established safe level for asbestos exposure, even veterans with safer assignments may have been harmed by the asbestos on board Ericsson. If your loved one developed mesothelioma after serving in the U.S. Navy, maritime exposure to asbestos likely contributed to his disease.Sources
“Ericsson [II]”. Dictionary of American naval Fighting Ships.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/e4/ericsson-ii.htm). Retrieved 29 December 2010.