The USS Gwin (DD-772) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for William Gwin, a U.S. Navy officer during the middle of the 19th century. Gwin was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.
Gwin was laid down in San Pedro, California by Bethlehem Steel in October 1943. She was launched in April 1944 and commissioned in September 1944, with Commander F.S. Steinke at the helm. Gwin carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 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.
Gwin began her service in the Pacific Ocean in January 1945. There, she supported the bombardment at Iwo Jima and the attacks at Okinawa. She remained at Okinawa nearly through the end of the war, downing some 16 enemy aircraft from her post—but also suffering a near-miss from a kamikaze that killed two men and left another two missing and 11 wounded.
When the war officially came to a close in August 1945, Gwin spent several months sweeping for mines in Tokyo Bay and the East China Sea as part of the Allied “mopping up” effort. She returned to the US in March 1946 and was soon decommissioned and placed on reserve with the Atlantic Fleet.
In 1952, Gwin was quickly recommissioned as hostilities began to build in and around Korea. She spent the years that followed completing training exercises, participating in NATO maneuvers, and touring the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions. Gwin joined other ships in sweeping for mines and hunting submarines along the east coast before being decommissioned for a second time in 1958.
Gwin was again recommissioned in the 1960s. She was rebuilt as a minelayer and reclassified as MMD-33 in January 1969. The vessel was eventually stricken from the Navy list in 1971. Later that year, Gwin was transferred to the government of Turkey and renamed Muavenet. During a 1992 NATO exercise, the ship was heavily damaged by a Sea Sparrow missile accidentally fired by a US vessel. She was later broken up and sold for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gwin (DD-772)
Virtually all of Gwin’s crew was exposed to asbestos-containing materials during their service. The mineral was used to insulate boilers, pipes, engines and turbines. It was also found in pumps, gaskets, cements and sealants. Exposure was usually most severe for sailors assigned to engineering, fire brigades, and damage control. Any asbestos exposure can lead to serious illnesses later in life, including mesothelioma.
Workers that rebuilt Gwin in 1969 likely encountered significant asbestos as well. Disturbing installed asbestos products, particularly those that have been damaged or waterlogged, can release individual asbestos fibers into the air. Without specialized equipment and training, handling such products can be very dangerous.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-772. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd772txt.htm) Retrieved 20 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Gwin (DD-772)
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/772.htm) Retrieved 20 February 2011.