The USS Hank (DD-702) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander William Edwin Hank who commanded Laffey during World War II. Hank was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.
Hank was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in January 1944, launched in May, and commissioned in August with Commander George M. Chambers in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Hank was 376 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.
Hank arrived at Pearl Harbor in December 1944 and was assigned to protecting aircraft carriers during airstrikes on Formosa and Luzon as well as during the troop landings at Lingayen Gulf in January 1945. The destroyer also served during raids on Tokyo in February and operated off Iwo Jima later in the month until the beginning of March. Hank was then assigned to bombarding various Japanese shore positions and defended aircraft carriers again for the invasion of Okinawa in April, where she also operated as a radar picket station.
Hank continued fighting off enemy aircraft and radar picket duties until hostilities ended, and served during the occupation until the end of December. She then returned to the United States and, while based in New Orleans, served as a reserve training ship prior to a deployment to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet in September 1949. Hank resumed training duties at home before being deployed to the Far East during the Korean War, where she screened blockade patrol vessels and conducted shore bombardments, from September 1950 until June 1951.
Hank then resumed training services, which were interspersed with regular deployments to the Mediterranean, and was assigned to patrol duty off the Suez Canal in 1956. The destroyer participated in training for Project Mercury in 1960 and also served as a recovery ship for the orbital flight in May 1962. After service during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, Hank was officially designated a Naval Reserve Training Ship in 1963 at Philadelphia, and then out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in 1972, transferred to Argentina, and used for scrap in 1983.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hank (DD-702)
Workplaces began utilizing ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) late in the 19th century because it was useful in construction and manufacturing applications. Because asbestos has properties that make it fire-resistant, it also became the norm for fireproofing navy vessels like the USS Hank. These types of ships contain heavy duty equipment such as turbines and boilers which generate large amounts of thermal energy. Because the asbestos mineral is such an excellent insulating material, it was wrapped around the steam pipes that ran throughout the ship and also around the boilers.
Most of the crew sailing or doing repairs on Hank were probably exposed to asbestos fibers to some degree. Although nearly everybody on the ship would have suffered asbestos exposure to at least a minimal degree, engineering personnel were most likely to experience a higher level of exposure. Any amount of exposure means that airborne asbestos is absorbed into the lungs or ingested.
An exposed person's risk of developing mesothelioma goes up considerably if he or she worked frequently with damaged asbestos fibers. Researchers have demonstrated a positive association between asbestos exposure and the rising incidence of mesothelioma in veterans.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-702.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd702txt.htm) Retrieved 7 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Hank (DD-702).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/702.htm) Retrieved 7 February 2011.