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USS Fife (DD-991)

The USS Fife (DD-991) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two and a half decades in the late-20th century and early-21st century. She was named for Admiral James Fife, Jr., a submarine commander who served in the First and Second World Wars. Fife was built as a Spruance-class ship.

Construction

Fife was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in March 1978, launched in May 1979, and commissioned in May 1980 with Commander John Y. Schrader, Jr., in command. Carrying a crew of 296, Fife was 563 feet in length and armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter. She had four gas turbines and two screws that supported a cruising speed of 30 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 20 knots.

Naval History

Fife, designed to operate independently and with battle groups, was assigned to find and strike hostile submarines. The destroyer operated off California by 1981 and served in the Philippines in 1982. During a deployment from 1983 to 1984, Fife served with aircraft carrier Ranger, and the vessel was also present during the 1986 World’s Fair at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She also visited Australia in 1989 and served in the Persian Gulf in 1991.

Fife participated in a United States and Australian military training exercise in 1997 that involved crisis action planning and practice in contingency response with elements of the 7th Fleet and Australian Defense Force. Two fleet exercises between the United States and Thai militaries followed. Fife returned home in June after a four-month tour of duty in the western Pacific. She then participated in an undersea warfare training exercise in the Tsushima Strait, between Japan and Korea, in early-1998.

Fife participated in search and rescue efforts following the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 in January 2000, during joint operations with United States Coast Guard ships and aircraft. The destroyer also took part in the multi-national exercise UNITAS 2002 in the South Pacific. Decommissioned in February 2003, Fife was struck from the Navy list in April 2004 and sunk during target practice exercises in August 2005.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Fife (DD-991)

Rapid innovations in industry in the 1800s led to the invention of steam engines and other high-temperature machinery that demanded the use of fire-proofing materials like asbestos insulation. The U.S. Navy used asbestos extensively for fireproofing aboard all its ships but never encouraged service men and women to wear protective gear to prevent them from breathing loose fibers into their lungs. Sailors and shipyard workers were thus continually at risk for asbestos exposure on the job and also at risk for developing mesothelioma which is caused by breathing in asbestos.

Although nearly every person serving on the USS Fife was potentially exposed to asbestos to one degree or another, mechanics and engineers experienced the greatest levels of exposure. They worked in closed, poorly ventilated areas where asbestos dust existed in high concentrations while they repaired or maintained equipment that contained large amounts of asbestos products. Individuals serving on the Fife were unknowingly exposed to a deadly substance. Today many are being diagnosed with mesothelioma. If you are one of them, please feel free to request helpful information from us so that you can learn more about the disease and the legal rights that you may have.

Sources

Sources

NavSource Naval History. USS Fife (DD-991).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/991.htm) Retrieved 7 March 2011.

GlobalSecurity.org USS Fife (DD-991).
(http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/navy/dd-991.htm) Retrieved 7 March 2011.

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