The USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Fred Thomas Berry, a U.S. Navy officer during the early portion of the 20th century who specialized in commanding dirigibles. Fred T. Berry was built as a Gearing-class ship.
Fred T. Berry was laid down in San Pedro, California by Bethlehem Steel in July 1944. She was launched in January 1945 and commissioned in May 1945, with Commander N.J. Frank, Jr. at the helm. Bristol carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.8 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following a standard training and shakedown period, Fred T. Berry began her service in the Pacific in August 1945. She arrived just as the conflict with Japan was coming to an end and spent much of her relatively short time in the Pacific serving occupation duty. After a stint in the U.S., Fred T. Berry returned to the Pacific again in 1948 before receiving an overhaul to augment her anti-submarine capabilities.
In 1949, Fred T. Berry was reassigned to the Atlantic fleet. In the years that followed, she traveled to Greenland, Cuba, and the Mediterranean. As tensions mounted in Korea, the vessel was re-routed from the Mediterranean to the South Pacific to join the forces in that region. During the conflict, Fred T. Berry launched strikes on shore targets, escorted a battleship, and screened carriers. She returned to the US in 1951.
During the 1950s, Fred T. Berry made many additional trips to the Mediterranean, participated in NATO’s Operation Mainbrace, and called at European ports from Barcelona to Scotland as part of a training mission. She also joined a group of ships dispatched to Argentina for experimental missions testing anti-submarine capabilities.
Fred T. Berry received a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) upgrade in 1961 and continued to serve in the U.S. Navy for another decade. She was eventually decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list in 1970. In 1972, the ship was scuttled off the coast of Florida.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858)
Fred T. Berry employed asbestos insulation and fireproofing throughout the ship. Some compartments employed asbestos products more widely than did others. The engine and power rooms aboard Fred T. Berry featured the heaviest concentration of such parts, where asbestos was used to insulate pipes, to cover boilers, and to protect components of her engines and steam turbines. Likewise, certain jobs suffered higher degrees of asbestos exposure. Sailors working with heavy machinery, dealing with fire suppression, and managing battle damage were more likely to be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. Inhalation or swallowing of asbestos may eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-858.
NavSource Naval History, USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858).