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USS Hale (DD-642)

The USS Hale (DD-642) served in the U.S. Navy for more than a decade and a half during the mid-20th century. She was named for Senator Eugene Hale who served in the Maine legislature and the House of Representatives. Hale was commissioned as a Fletcher-class vessel.

Construction

Hale was laid down at Bath, Maine by Bath Iron Works in November 1942, launched in April 1943, and commissioned in June with Commander Karl F. Poehlmann in command. Supporting a crew complement of 273, Hale was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.

Naval History

Hale was deployed to the Pacific in September 1943, arrived at Pearl Harbor in October, and was assigned to screen aircraft carriers during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands in November. The destroyer conducted the same operations during the Marshall Islands invasion in January 1944. In March, Hale provided anti-submarine patrols at Guadalcanal and at Hollandia, New Guinea, where she also provided screening and escort duties. Hale operated during the invasion of Guam in July and battled enemy forces at the battle off Samar in October.

Hale returned to the west coast in December, and then sailed back to the Pacific war zone in February 1945, and served during the invasion of Okinawa in March. She conducted bombardment throughout the operation, and then served as an escort to Guam and Leyte Gulf before joining Task Force 38 for strikes against Japan. When the war ended in August, Hale operated as an air-sea rescue vessel for occupation troops.

Hale was decommissioned at San Diego from January 1947 to March 1951, stationed at Newport, Rhode Island, and then served with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean in April 1952, where she would return to two more times. Returning home from this duty in October 1952, Hale operated off the Atlantic Coast, was overhauled at Philadelphia, and embarked on a cruise around the world in June 1954.

Hale operated as the Destroyer Force Gunnery School Ship at Newport from December 1954 until November 1956, and embarked on another world cruise in July 1958. In February 1960, Hale began experimental work with nuclear submarines at Newport. The destroyer was decommissioned in July 1960, transferred to Columbia in December as Antioquia, and broken up for scrap in December 1973.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Hale (DD-642)

Builders and manufacturers began using asbestos fibers in the late 1800s because it was highly useful for construction and industrial applications. Both merchant and military vessels such as Hale employed asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) as an insulating material for their engineering applications. The U.S. Navy deployed asbestos widely until the late 1970s as an insulator as well as to fireproof compartments aboard all its vessels. When inhaled or ingested, microscopic asbestos fibers can become lodged in the thin tissue that surrounds internal organs, and may eventually cause the development of mesothelioma.

Certain jobs had greater exposure to asbestos: sailors laboring in the engineering sections, handling machinery, fighting fires, or dealing with battle damage were most likely to come into contact with asbestos fibers. Also at high risk were shipyard workers carrying out repairs and overhauls. Protracted exposure to asbestos-containing material, and particularly airborne asbestos, amplifies a person's chance of becoming ill. Legal recourse exists for veterans diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-642.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd642txt.htm) Retrieved 29 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Hale (DD-642)
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/642.htm) Retrieved 29 January 2011.

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