The USS Hamner (DD-718) was in service with the U.S. Navy for nearly three and a half decades in the mid-20th century, and was later sold to Taiwan. She was named for Lieutenant Henry Rawlings “Pete” Hamner who served in the Second World War. Hamner was built as a Gearing-class naval destroyer.
Hamner was laid down at Newark, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in April 1945, launched in November, and commissioned in July 1946 with Commander Joseph B. Swain in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Hamner was 390 feet, six inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Hamner was assigned to the Pacific Fleet in December 1946 and served with Destroyer Division 111 for the next nine months. During this deployment, Hamner visited several Chinese and Japanese ports, and then returned to the United States for training. Hamner was then deployed to Korea in 1950, where she conducted shore bombardments, aided in the evacuation of Yongdok, and screened aircraft carriers. The destroyer returned to Korean waters twice more until the armistice in July 1953.
Hamner maintained a yearly schedule of visiting the western Pacific and then served with the Taiwan Patrol Force from December 1958 to January 1962, which she alternated with training in San Diego, California. In January 1962, Hamner received an FRAM overhaul at San Francisco, and then returned to the western Pacific in May 1963 where she served off of South Vietnam. After operating off the west coast in 1964, Hamner sailed for Vietnam in January 1965 and served as an escort in the Gulf of Tonkin, covered troop landings, and conducted shore bombardments. She returned to the United States in late-July.
During her July 1966 deployment to the region, Hamner operated as a plane guard for Oriskany and saved the carrier when it was on fire in October. The destroyer returned to San Diego in early-1967 and was struck from the Navy list in October 1979, sold to Taiwan in December 1980 as ROCS Yun Yang, and remained in commission until December 2003. The former Hamner was sunk as a target in September 2005.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hamner (DD-718)
Beginning around the 1800s, the mineral asbestos was used widely in factory buildings and high heat environments. Because asbestos has properties that make it fire-resistant, it became the primary means of fireproofing navy vessels starting in the early 1900’s. The U.S. Navy installed asbestos extensively as insulation to fireproof compartments aboard all ships and used asbestos parts like gaskets and valves on engines, pumps and boilers. This created an asbestos exposure risk for crewmembers serving on board and today, many are finding that they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result. When breathed in or swallowed, tiny asbestos particles become lodged in the lungs and eventually can be the cause of this asbestos disease.
Crewmen working on heavy machinery were more likely to experience a greater level of exposure as were crew members working in the boiler and pump rooms. Unlike some fibers, asbestos doesn't bend, but actually breaks, becoming friable. "Friable" means that the individual asbestos fibers in the insulation become dislodged into the air, where they can more easily be inhaled or swallowed. Working with friable asbestos or damaged machinery exposed Hamner's crewmen and yard workers to dangerous amounts of asbestos.
If you served on the USS Hammer and have developed mesothelioma you have legal rights. Please fill out the form on this page to learn more today.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-718.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd718txt.htm) Retrieved 10 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Hamner (DD-718).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/718.htm) Retrieved 10 February 2011.