USS Fanning (DD-385) was a Mahan-class destroyer constructed for the US Navy. She was the second naval vessel named in honor of Nathaniel Fanning, an officer in the colonial navy who served aboard Bonhomme Richard under John Paul Jones.
Fanning was launched by the United Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation in New York City on September 18, 1936. She was sponsored by Miss Cora A. Marsh, who was the namesake’s great-great granddaughter. Lieutenant Commander E. H. Geiselman took command of Fanning on October 8, 1937.
Following a shakedown cruise, Fanning accompanied Philadelphia (CL-41) to Annapolis, Maryland as she carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a Caribbean cruise. In May of 1938, she escorted MS Kungsholm as it transported the Crown Prince of Sweden, Gustaf VI Adolf . She then joined the Battle Force on the west coast in September. While based in San Diego, California, Fanning conducted antisubmarine, antiaircraft and tactical exercise. She continued in this capacity for the next three years.
On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Fanning was at sea with TF 8. Upon her return to Pearl Harbor, she delivered a squadron of Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. These planes became the island’s only source of airborne defense.
In mid-January 1942, Fanning encountered low visibility due to a heavy rainstorm. As a result, she was involved in a collision with Gridley (DD-380). Both ships were badly damaged as a result of the accident. After undergoing emergency repairs, Fanning joined TF 16. After rendezvousing with TF 18, the combined forces embarked upon the first American offensive against Japan. Following a successful mission, Fanning returned to San Francisco for permanent repairs. She then spent the rest of the year conducting patrol and convoy duties within the Solomon Islands.
In January 1943, Fanning was deployed against the Japanese in Guadalcanal. She assisted with occupying the Russell Islands before providing protection to the troops on Munda Island. Fanning then conducted escort duty, patrol and training off the Aleutian Islands for the remainder of the year.
On July 21, 1944, Fanning escorted Baltimore (CA-68), which was carrying President Roosevelt, to Alaska. In September, she participated in shore bombardment before providing escort for SS Antigua to Eniwetok. She continued to perform screen duties until November 11, at which time she participated in the first of a series of assaults on Iwo Jima. After escorting USS David W. Taylor, which had been damaged by a mine, to Ulithi, Fanning joined Dunlap in sinking three cargo ships. For the remainder of the war, Fanning engaged in escort and patrol duties along the islands of Iwo Jima, Eniwetok and Guam.
Fanning was decommissioned on December 14, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia. She received four battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Fanning (DD-385)
The installation of asbestos insulation in the design of oceangoing vessels was required by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship killed more than 100 people. Ships like Fanning made use of asbestos insulation heavily around boilers and engine rooms, and for insulation in the other sections of the ship. The harm caused by asbestos fibers occurs when tiny particles are breathed in or swallowed; the fibers invade the respiratory system and occasionally other organs, leading to scar tissue in the case of asbestosis and damage at the cellular level in the case of mesothelioma cancer.
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Fanning. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/f1/fanning-ii.htm Retrieved 1 January 2011.