The USS Gamble (DD-123) served in the US Navy for over two-and-a-half decades in the early 20th century, and received seven battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Lieutenant Peter Gamble and Lieutenant Colonel John M. Gamble, both heroes of the War of 1812. Gamble was built as a Wickes-class destroyer.
Gamble was laid down in Newport News, Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company in November 1917, launched in May 1918, and commissioned in November with Commander Harry Jefferson Abbett in command. Carrying a crew of 101, Gamble was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two three-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Gamble participated in fleet maneuvers off Cuba; Key West, Florida; and New England from January through June 1919. She was overhauled in Norfolk, Virginia and in August, joined the Pacific Fleet until being placed in reserve at Mare Island Navy Yard in December. In October, Gamble assisted with torpedo practice and operated along the California coast while training reservists, and was decommissioned in June 1922 at San Diego, California.
Re-commissioned in May 1930, Gamble was reclassified DM-15 and converted into a light minelayer. Gamble served as the flagship of Mine Division 1 and helped train reservists in mine warfare. She was decommissioned once again in December 1937, but returned to service in September 1939 when World War II began in Europe. Gamble participated in the battle against Japanese aircraft during the Pearl Harbor attack and took down one plane.
Gamble conducted minelaying operations with Ramsey off Tutuila in February 1942, and in the Fiji Islands in April, and then returned to Pearl Harbor for heavier armament before safeguarding convoys to Midway during the battle there. In May 1943, Gamble, Preble, and Breese laid over 250 mines in 17 minutes across Blackett Strait, sinking one Japanese destroyer, and damaging three others.
Gamble was hit by two 250 pound bombs on February 18, 1945, off Iwo Jima, which flooded both fire rooms and created two holes in the ship's bottom, killing five men and wounding eight others. She was towed to Saipan for repairs, was decommissioned in June 1945, then was towed to Guam and sunk.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gamble (DD-123)
The installation of asbestos-containing materials in the design of marine vessels was mandated by Congress in the 1930s, after a fire at sea aboard a cruise ship killed 137 passengers and crew. Navy ships like Gamble deployed asbestos insulation extensively in boilers and engineering spaces, as well as to insulate compartments all over the ship. If asbestos insulation is damaged it becomes "friable", meaning that fibers can break off and escape into the surrounding air, and then are breathed in by ship's crew or shipfitters, potentially leading to the development of mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-123 (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd123txt.htm) Retrieved 21 December 2010
NavSource Naval History, USS Gamble (DD-123).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/123.htm) Retrieved 21 December 2010