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USS Fitch (DD-462)

The USS Fitch (DD-462) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly a decade and a half in the mid-20th century, but remained on the Navy list until 1971. She was named for Commander LeRoy Fitch who served in the Civil War. Fitch was commissioned as a Gleaves-class vessel.

Construction

Fitch was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard in January 1941, launched in June, and commissioned in February 1942 with Lieutenant Commander H. Crommelin in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Fitch was 348 feet, four inches long and armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six one-half inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Fitch escorted Ranger to the Gold Coast of Africa from July to August 1942, and then returned to the United States to prepare for the assault on North Africa in November. She participated in the troop landings in French Morocco and also guarded aircraft carriers during the assault. Following this duty, Fitch conducted coastal escort duty from the east coast to the Panama Canal Zone.

Fitch embarked on two voyages to North Africa with Ranger in January 1943, and then joined the British Home Fleet to serve patrol duty between Scotland and Iceland. In September, Fitch operated as a convoy escort to Northern Ireland, and then served as an aircraft carrier screen out of Scapa Flow, Scotland and a patrol vessel off Spitzbergen to guard weather station operators.

Fitch returned to Boston in December 1943 and participated in anti-submarine operations before departing to Northern Ireland in April 1944 to prepare for the Normandy invasion. Serving as an escort and conducting training exercise until June, Fitch protected minesweepers and fired on German shore batteries the morning of the invasion, and also rescued survivors following the mining of Corry. Fitch also operated out of Taranto, Italy until October in preparation for the invasion of southern France.

Fitch was converted into high-speed minesweeper DMS-25 at Norfolk, Virginia and then arrived at Pearl Harbor in February 1945 for minesweeper training. She joined the 3rd fleet off Japan in August and operated in Tokyo Bay and the East China Sea. Fitch returned to the United States in January 1946 to serve as a minesweeper crew transport and training ship for Mine Force officers at Charleston Naval Shipyard. Following additional operations in the Mediterranean in 1949, 1951, and 1953, Fitch was decommissioned at Charleston in February 1956, put in reserve, and struck from the Navy list in July 1971.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Fitch (DD-462)

By the late 1930s, asbestos was used extensively in U.S. Navy warships. The mineral was used to insulate and fireproof most compartments and systems on Fitch, with the engineering sections posing the greatest exposure risk. Any veteran of this vessel that later suffered asbestos cancer may have been exposed while serving. Such sailors can usually obtain some compensation by pursuing legal action against the manufactures of the asbestos products on board.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-462.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd462txt.htm

NavSource Naval History, USS Fitch (DD-462).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/462.htm

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