The USS Gainard (DD-706) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Joseph Alysius Gainard, an officer of the United States Naval Reserve Force 23 who served during both world wars. Gainard was commissioned as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer.
Gainard was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in March 1944, launched in September, and commissioned in November with Commander Francis J. Foley in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Gainard was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Gainard sailed to the west coast in February 1945 and then departed for Pearl Harbor in March, where she was deployed to Saipan to prepare for the Okinawa invasion. Beginning in April, Gainard served at Okinawa for the initial assault and then commenced radar picket and fighter-director duties. During this deployment, she helped destroy a multitude of suicide planes, but was subjected to attacks on 27 occasions and four nearby ships were struck during close encounters.
Gainard remained on duty at Okinawa until July and then sailed for the Philippines for logistics and upkeep purposes. Following arrival off Honshu, Japan in September, Gainard operated as an air-sea rescue ship until February 1946. The destroyer then sailed for the west coast of the United States in March and arrived at Casco Bay, Maine in April.
Gainard took station at Newport, Rhode Island and was assigned to anti-submarine duties on nine different occasions with the 6th Fleet. In 1957, Gainard took part in NATO’s Exercise Strike Back and contributed to the fleet’s combat readiness. Gainard conducted six weeks of combat readiness operations in the Indian Ocean while on her 1960-1961 tour with the 6th Fleet, but also participated in aiding victims of Hurricane Carla off Texas in September and October 1961.
Gainard operated on recovery station during the final Project Mercury launch in May 1963, and then served as a school ship in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. The destroyer was decommissioned in February 1971, offered to Iran but rejected, and sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Corporation in March 1974.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gainard (DD-706)
Since asbestos-based insulation was found nearly everywhere aboard ship, nearly every member of the crew suffered exposure during the course of their career. Those working with ship's machinery had the highest exposure. A job in dry dock also exposed service members to asbestos. And family members of dockyard and shipbuilding personnel often suffered second-hand exposure to asbestos fibers that were carried home on worker’s clothing and uniforms. Breathing and swallowing of individual asbestos fibers can eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma.
The likelihood of developing an asbestos disease goes up considerably if the exposed person worked frequently with frayed or damaged asbestos-based insulation. Gainard’s combat roles increase the risk to her crew and their families. Legal options often exist for anyone suffering from an asbestos related illness.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-706.
NavSource Naval History. USS Gainard (DD-706).