The USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD-708) served in the U.S. Navy for more than two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Harlan R. Dickson who served during the early part of World War II. Harlan R. Dickson was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class vessel.
Harlan R. Dickson was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in May 1944, launched in December, and commissioned in February 1945 with Commander Paul G. Osler in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Harlan R. Dickson was 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.
Harlan R. Dickson was deployed to the Pacific in August 1945, but after Japan surrendered, the destroyer was ordered back home and reported to Solomons, Maryland for experimental mine work. In December, Harlan R. Dickson reported to Pearl Harbor and underwent tactical training in the Pacific until March 1946, when she returned to the east coast. Harlan R. Dickson sailed to the Mediterranean for the first time in February 1947, with the 6th Fleet, and remained there until mid-August.
Harlan R. Dickson maintained a pattern of six months of service in the Mediterranean and six months of fleet operations off the East Coast and the Caribbean. Mediterranean service included duties during the Palestine crisis in December 1948 and January 1949, and to evacuate American citizens from Haifa, Israel on the July to December 1956 tour. Harlan R. Dickson helped retrieve test capsules off Cape Canaveral, Florida in September 1959.
Harlan R. Dickson continued fleet and NATO exercises and served on anti-submarine duty in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In March 1963, Harlan R. Dickson was deployed to the Mediterranean for the 10th time, which included operations in the Persian Gulf. The destroyer sailed to Newport, Rhode Island in September and began overhaul at Boston Navy Yard in January 1964. Harlan R. Dickson was struck from the Navy list in July 1972 and sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Company in May 1973.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD-708)
Whether stationed in the engineering section or the dining areas and galleys, crewmembers aboard the USS Harlan R. Dickson would likely have been exposed to asbestos. Sailors who worked in the engine room, worked as machinists or firemen had a greater chance of being exposed to higher levels of asbestos. On board both civilian and naval vessels like the Harlan R. Dickson, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) could be found in nearly every compartment.
Not only sailors were at risk. The primary work performed in shipyards included ship repair, demolition, and construction. As a result, asbestos debris was constantly airborne and all of the engineers and workers had the potential of breathing it in. Asbestos dust would even adhere to the clothing of dock workers and expose family members. When inhaled or ingested, tiny asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lungs and may eventually result in mesothelioma.
Greater exposure to asbestos-containing material, and specifically airborne asbestos, multiplies a person's risk of developing asbestos cancer. Large amounts of particulate asbestos surrounded those working on ship repairs, especially when working on areas of Harlan R. Dickson containing high levels of asbestos. Those who served on Navy ships and diagnosed with mesothelioma have legal recourse. A mesothelioma lawyer can help with options for former sailors or yard workers who discover they have mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-708.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd708txt.htm) Retrieved 8 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD-708).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/708.htm) Retrieved 8 February 2011.