The USS Harding (DD-625) served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. She was named for Lieutenant Seth Harding who served in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. Harding was commissioned as a Gleaves-class destroyer.
Harding was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in July 1941, launched in June 1942, and commissioned in May 1943 with Lieutenant Commander G.G. Palmer in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Harding was armed with six one-half inch machine guns, four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes. Harding was 348 feet, four inches long and had a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 12 knots.
Following training in Chesapeake Bay, from August 1943 to April 1944 Harding operated on anti-submarine patrol for Atlantic merchant convoys, then trained with Plymouth and Cyde in preparation for the Normandy, France invasion and provided fire support to troops during the assault. Harding destroyed machine gun emplacements and used a small boat to deploy supplies to Rangers and evacuate prisoners and wounded from the area.
Harding operated off Normandy until mid-July and then conducted screening duties off southern France in August. During this deployment, Harding encountered four German E-boats and sank three of them before resuming her patrol duty. Harding operated in the Mediterranean until late-September and was converted to destroyer-minesweeper DMS-28 in November at New York. In January 1945, Harding arrived at San Diego, California and then sailed for Pearl Harbor in February.
Harding was assigned to minesweeping operations at Okinawa in March and screened other vessels in outer zones during the amphibious assault. After providing fire support for ground forces in April, Harding resumed screening services the next day and was attacked by kamikaze planes, one of which struck her directly in the bridge and gashed her side. The enemy plane’s bomb also exploded, resulting in 14 casualties and eight missing. Harding was repaired at Okinawa and returned to the United States, was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in November 1945, and sold for scrap to Luria Brothers & Company in April 1947.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Harding (DD-625)
Asbestos was used to make many products fireproof including insulation, cement, cloth, flooring, valves and gaskets and more. Because there was a high need for protection from fire on board naval ships, asbestos was a popular material used in the construction of these ships. While it offered superior protection from heat and fire it was later determined to cause a life-threatening cancer known as mesothelioma. Many compartments on navy ships were small and not ventilated well. Engine rooms, for example, contained much equipment that was built with asbestos components. When these components needed to be replaced or repairs, tiny asbestos fibers could enter the air and the mechanics were prone to breathing them in. This put them at risk for developing mesothelioma sometime in the future.
Other crewmembers were also at risk. The incidence of malignant mesothelioma is known to be strongly associated with the overall level of exposure to asbestos as well as the duration of exposure. Broken asbestos-containing material is especially dangerous and when damaged in combat or by collision asbestos-containing material could enter the air. The crews working on Harding after her battle damage from the kamikaze strike would have been exposed to high levels of this free-floating asbestos.
If you served on the USS Harding you may be at risk for being diagnosed with mesothelioma. To learn more about the disease and the legal recourse you have if you’ve been diagnosed, please fill in the form on this page and we will send information to you right away.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-625. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd625txt.htm) Retrieved 28 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Harding (DD-625).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/625.htm) Retrieved 28 January 2011.