The USS Fiske was a Gearing-class destroyer in service with the U.S. Navy from the end of World War II until 1980 and with the Turkish Navy until the end of the 20th century. She was named for Read Admiral Bradley Fiske, who developed an improved range-finder (the Stadimeter) and invented the aerial torpedo prior to the First World War.
Fiske was constructed at the Bath Iron Works Shipyard in Bath, Maine and launched in September 1945. She was commissioned at the end of November of that year with Commander C.H. Smith serving as the vessel's first master.
The Gearing class was the third stage in the evolution of the modern destroyer, which began with the very successful Fletcher class just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Both the Sumner and Gearing classes were improvements of this design; the Gearing was longer, faster and more heavily armed, with a greater range as well as twin rudders for additional maneuverability.
Fiske was over 390 feet long with a beam of just under 41 feet, and when fully loaded, displaced over 3400 tons. Her two General Electric steam turbines pushed her along at speeds of over 36 knots, generating 60,000 horsepower. Her crew compliment was 336 officers and seamen.
During her first six years of service, Fiske was primarily a training vessel, operating out of Newport, Rhode Island along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. During this period, she made three deployments to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet.
Fiske was sent to the combat zone off Korea in January 1951. Returning to port in August of that year, Fiske continued with routine duties until entering the yard the following April for conversion work. After that refit’s completion in July 1952, she was redesignated as DDR-842.
For the next several years, Fiske remained in the Atlantic and Caribbean, operating out of East Coast ports, participating in NATO exercises and focusing on anti-submarine warfare exercises. After taking part in the Cuban Blockade in October 1962, she made a single voyage to the Mediterranean.
In April 1964, Fiske underwent a Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization overhaul, which was carried out at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from April through December 1964. During this overhaul, the superstructure was replaced and anti-submarine weapons as well as a helicopter pad were installed.
In May 1965, Fiske was ordered to the Dominican Republic in order to monitor the civil war that had broken out.
Fiske was ordered to Vietnam in 1966. After this deployment, she returned to Newport sailing westward through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. After Fiske underwent a major overhaul at the Boston Naval Shipyard in 1967-68 she returned to deployments in the Mediterranean and Middle East.
In July 1973, Fiske was home ported in Bayonne, New Jersey, and spent the remainder of her service with the Reserve Force. She was sold to Turkey in June 1980, and continued to serve in that country's navy as the TCG Piyalepasa (D350) until she ran aground in 1996. The vessel was scrapped three years later.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Fiske (DD-842)
Asbestos products were used as insulators and for fire resistance throughout the Fiske. Engineering spaces had the highest concentration of asbestos materials, but pipes running the length and breadth of the vessel were often insulated with asbestos. The most dangerous asbestos products are those that have been damaged or worn, as those are the most likely to release individual asbestos fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled and cause their damage. Breathing asbestos contaminated air has been conclusively linked to mesothelioma.
As she saw both training and combat duties, it is likely that a great many sailors served at least some time aboard this ship and risked exposure. Her refit and subsequent overhaul endangered the shipbuilders involved in those efforts. While the greatest health threat comes from long-term exposure to asbestos, any contact with the mineral can have long-term health consequences.Sources
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).
NavSource. "USS Fiske (DD-842/DDR-842)"