The USS Halford (DD-480) served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The destroyer was named in honor of Lieutenant William Halford (1841-1919).
Halford was launched in October of 1942 by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. She was officially commissioned in April of 1943 under the command of Lieutenant Commander G. N. Johansen.
Halford spent her career in the Pacific theater, eventually earning 13 battle stars for service in World War II. When she was initially deployed, her role was unique. As one of six destroyers built with a catapult and a scout observation plane, her responsibility was evaluating the feasibility of carrying scout planes on small vessels. She conducted this testing until October of 1943, when she was sent to Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Due to tactical changes and the superiority of aircraft carrier strength, the catapult and scout plane were replaced. Outfitted with a new profile and better arms capabilities, Halford resumed duty in the Pacific.
Halford undertook a variety of operations, including convoy duties, screening of supply trains, and coastal bombardments. In February of 1944, she became the flagship for Admiral T. S. “Ping” Wilkinson’s Green Islands Attack Force. This group carried New Zealand troops to Green Island, with Halford on patrol while 5,800 men were landed without incident. Later that month, Halford joined a destroyer group, fighting alongside Bennett to sink two enemy vessels and damage one.
In the summer of 1944, Halford was on the front lines of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. She was part of the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” in which enemy carrier strikes were repeatedly shot down. Over the course of the battle, 395 enemy carrier planes, 31 float planes, and three carriers were destroyed. Later that year, Halford bombarded coastal targets on Leyte Island, helping to pave the way for the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
For the rest of the war, Halford’s primary duties were escort and patrol operations. In August of 1945, Halford joined the Northern Pacific Fleet out of Adak, Alaska. As part of a light carrier task force, Halford sailed from Alaska to Ominato, Northern Honshu, Japan. This force established the initial American occupation of Ominato Naval Base. Halford returned to Alaska in September, and arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, that November for her inactivation overhaul. After joining the Pacific Reserve Fleet in San Diego, she was decommissioned in May of 1946.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Halford (DD-480)
The U.S. Navy installed asbestos materials extensively until the late 1970s as insulation as well as to fireproof equipment on board all its vessels. The engine and boiler areas of Halford utilized asbestos to insulate conduits, to line steam boilers, and to protect parts of the ship's motors or steam turbines. Since asbestos insulation was found all over the ship, essentially all crewmen suffered exposure at some point during their career. Sailors repairing and refitting engineering equipment were exposed more frequently and to a greater degree, as were those working in fire suppression crews. Researchers have discovered a conclusive relationship between inhalation of asbestos fibers and the development of malignant mesothelioma.Sources
“Halford.” Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.