The USS Gridley (DD-92) was a Wickes class destroyer in the US Navy during World War I. The basic requirement for this class was to achieve a top speed of 35 knots. She was named in honor of Charles Vernon Gridley (1844-1898), an officer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War best known today for being mentioned in Commodore Thomas Dewey’s immortal command, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.”
In April 1918, Gridley was laid down at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California. She was launched just three months later in July. Gridley was commissioned in March 1919, with Comdr. Frank Jack Fletcher in command.
After a west coast shakedown at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Gridley passed through the Panama Canal and headed for Cuban waters where she linked with the Destroyer Force and carried out maneuvers. Her initial mission, after quick repairs at Norfolk, Virginia, was to lend support to a fleet of destroyers whose task was to guide the navy’s seaplanes in their transatlantic flight from New York to Plymouth, England. Posted at intervals along the route, Gridley and her companions guided the pilots by providing thick, dark smoke from their funnels by daylight while shooting flares and training searchlights in the sky at night. Through dense fog one plane, NC-4, was able to land at the Azores thanks to the aid the destroyers supplied. Gridley participated in search efforts after dense fog forced the NC-1 down.
Subsequently, Gridley proceeded as guard ship on the final leg that ended the seaplanes’ historic flight at Plymouth, England, on 31 May 1919. Gridley spent the following two months on a goodwill tour transporting passengers throughout different ports in the Mediterranean. By the end of July, Gridley had returned to New York and began operating out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In September 1920, Major General Lejeune and Brigadier General Butler of the Marine Corps embarked Gridley at Charleston for an inspection tour of Caribbean bases and positions along with stations in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Operating out of Charleston, Philadelphia, New York and Newport, Gridley trained officers and men of the Naval Reserve Force until she was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard in June 1922. Inactive, her name was stricken from the Navy List, January 1937. Seventeen years later, Gridley was sold for scrap in April 1939.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gridley (DD-92)
Using asbestos-containing materials in the design of oceangoing ships was required by law in the US in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard the SS Morro Castle killed 137 passengers and crew. Gridley, like most Navy ships at the time, installed asbestos-containing materials heavily, particularly in ship's boilers and engine spaces, as well as in fireproofing in other parts of the ship. When asbestos insulation is damaged it becomes "friable", meaning that individual asbestos fibers can be broken off and enter the atmosphere, and then can be breathed in by sailors or repair workers, possibly causing mesothelioma.
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Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/g8/gridley-i.htm Retrieved 30 December 2010.