The USS Gyatt (DD-712) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Marine Private Edward Earl Gyatt who served during the assault on Tulagi, Solomon Islands in World War II. Gyatt was commissioned as a member of the Gearing class of naval destroyers.
Gyatt was laid down at Newark, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in September 1944, launched in April 1945, and commissioned in July at the New York Navy Yard with Commander A. D. Kaplan in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Gyatt 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. She was 390 feet, six inches long and had a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 20 knots.
Gyatt was based out of Norfolk, Virginia following shakedown training in the Caribbean, and operated along the east coast. She was also assigned to training operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean with aircraft carriers. Visits to Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro, and Trinidad were made after January 1947 and Gyatt was then deployed to the Mediterranean from November 1947 until March 1948.
Gyatt was converted into the first guided missile destroyer after she was decommissioned at Boston Naval Shipyard in October 1955, and was fitted with two Terrier guided missile launchers and a specialized stabilization system. The destroyer was reclassified DDG-1 in December, re-commissioned in December 1956, and then reclassified as DDG-712 before resuming the designation of DDG-1 in 1957.
Gyatt was then deployed along the Atlantic coast of the United States and then joined the 6th Fleet in January 1960 and returned from the Mediterranean in August. In November 1960 and April 1961, Gyatt served as a nose-cone recovery station for Project Mercury before returning to Europe during a crisis in Berlin. Gyatt underwent another overhaul at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in June 1962 and was returned to status as DD-712 with her missile system removed. The destroyer served with the Operational Test and Evaluation Force with which she performed experimental work until 1967. Gyatt was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in October 1969 and sunk during a training exercise in June 1970.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gyatt (DD-712)
Nearly every section of Gyatt employed asbestos products, but some compartments made heavier use of the mineral than others. Engineering sections contained the most asbestos, where it was used as insulation and fireproofing for engines, boilers, and pumps. Sailors serving in the engine room had the greatest exposure risk, but all of Gyatt’s sailors were likely to have some exposure during their service. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers can cause a number of serious illnesses, including mesothelioma.
Refits and overhauls can cause an additional exposure risk, as asbestos-containing materials are often removed, torn, or otherwise handled during such operations. There may have been significant exposure to the crew that installed Gyatt’s missile systems. While daily exposure has been shown to be the most likely to lead to asbestos disease, any exposure is potentially dangerous.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-712
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd712txt.htm) Retrieved 9 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Gyatt (DD-712)
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/712.htm) Retrieved 9 February 2011.