The USS Halsey Powell (DD-686) served in the U.S. Navy for over three decades in the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Captain Halsey Powell who served as an aide to the Secretary of the Navy. Halsey Powell was commissioned as a Fletcher-class naval destroyer.
Halsey Powell was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in February 1943, launched in June, and commissioned in October with Commander W. T. McGarry in command. Built as a 376 foot five inch long destroyer, Halsey Powell had a displacement of 2,924 tons and was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns.
Halsey Powell was stationed at Pearl Harbor in February 1944 and began performing escort duty at Pearl Harbor and then at the Marshall Islands in March. During this deployment, Halsey Powell defended other vessels against attacks from aircraft and submarines, and successfully attacked I-32 in late March. Halsey Powell provide fire support at the invasion of Saipan and also operated as a radar picket, and bombarded enemy positions at Tinain prior to the July invasion.
In August, Halsey Powell served with aircraft carriers during strikes on the Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa, then served as a carrier screen during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in October. She served with the fleet during the Lingayen Gulf assault, and escorted Ticonderoga back to Ulithi following a kamikaze hit. Halsey Powell was struck by a kamikaze at Okinawa in March, resulting in nine casualties. Following repairs on the west coast, Halsey Powell arrived at Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies in September, served with occupation forces until late-October, and was decommissioned in December 1946.
Halsey Powell resumed active service in April 1951 and returned to Japan in August. The destroyer protected carriers and conducted bombardments off Korea before sailing back to the United States in February 1952. Another tour in Korea followed from October 1952 until December May 1953. Halsey Powell conducted yearly cruises to the western Pacific until she became a unit of Reserve Destroyer Squadron 27 at Long Beach, California in January 1965. Transferred to South Korea as Seoul in April 1968, the former Halsey Powell was struck from the Navy list in 1975 and used for scrap in 1982.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Halsey Powell (DD-686)
Since the late 1800s, asbestos fireproofing materials were used in factory environments; as the usefulness of these materials became clear, merchant and naval craft such as the USS Halsey Powell also began to use asbestos insulation. The U.S. Navy employed asbestos widely as a heat and electrical insulator as well as for fireproofing aboard all its vessels. This resulted in many crewmembers being unknowingly exposed to a harmful substance that was later learned to cause mesothelioma, a type of asbestos cancer.
Because asbestos insulation was installed in so many places on these ships, a vast majority of crewmembers ran the risk of asbestos exposure at one point or another in their career. Repair and shipyard workers were also potentially exposed to asbestos-containing materials when working on ships while they were docked for overhaul, repair or maintenance. When breathed in or swallowed, microscopic asbestos fibers become lodged in the respiratory tract and may, over time, cause the development of the asbestos disease known as malignant mesothelioma.
When ships experience battle damage, such as when Halsey Powell was struck by a kamikaze off Okinawa, asbestos could enter the air in large quantities exposing many more crewmen on board to the dangerous substance. Legal options are available for those living with malignant mesothelioma and other ailments caused by asbestos exposure. To learn more about them, please fill in the form on this page and we will mail you an information kit, absolutely free of charge.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-686.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd686txt.htm) Retrieved 4 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Halsey Powell (DD-686).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/686.htm) Retrieved 4 February 2011.