The USS Harrison (DD-573) served in the U.S. Navy for a half a decade during World War II. She was named for Benjamin Harrison of the Continental Congress and Napoleon Harrison who served in the Civil War. Harrison was commissioned as a Fletcher-class naval ship.
Harrison was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in June 1941, launched in May 1942, and commissioned in January 1943 with Commander C.M. Dalton in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Harrison was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Harrison conducted escort missions to the Panama Canal Zone and to Casablanca from the east coast, and then arrived at Charleston, South Carolina in June. Following Caribbean anti-submarine exercises with Yorktown, Harrison was deployed to the Pacific Fleet in the middle of 1943. Harrison sailed to Pearl Harbor with aircraft carrier USS Lexington and began training for amphibious operations there in August. She participated in strikes against Marcus and Wake Islands and then reported for duty in the Solomon Islands in October.
Harrison served during battles with Japanese forces at Bougainville in November as well as in the Gilbert Islands. In January 1944, Harrison was anchored in Pearl Harbor, but by the end of the month arrived at Kwajalein with the Southern Attack Force for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She then served during the occupation of Hollandia in March and commenced patrol and escort duties off New Guinea in April.
Harrison served in the offensives in the Mariana Islands and Guam in June, and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Harrison was also in service for the invasion of the Leyte Gulf in October, and spent much of November at Mare Island Navy Yard in California. The destroyer participated in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations in 1945, and weathered a typhoon in June. Harrison conducted attacks with Task Force 38 until Japan surrendered in August, and was decommissioned at Charleston, South Carolina in April 1946. Struck from the Navy list in May 1968, Harrison was transferred to Mexico in August 1970 and used for scrap in 1982.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Harrison (DD-573)
Asbestos could be found in nearly every corridor and compartment on the USS Harrison. High concentrations of asbestos-containing materials could be found in certain areas of the ship, such as the engineering room. The engineering and power compartments aboard Harrison employed asbestos in large amounts as insulation for pipes, to line ship's boilers, and to cover elements of the ship's motors or power plant. Even areas with no heat-related engineering function contained asbestos based components, as the fiber was widely used in cement, glues, caulk, gaskets and other common products used in the manufacture of machinery and equipment.
Because asbestos is a mineral fiber, when it is damaged the tiny fibers can peel off, becoming friable. Insulation containing asbestos in a friable state is dangerous because the fibers will enter the air where they can be inhaled. Prolonged exposure to asbestos-containing material, and particularly broken or brittle asbestos, has been linked to the development of mesothelioma in many veterans who served on the Harrison or other naval ships. Legal recourse exists for those coping with mesothelioma and other diseases known to be caused by asbestos.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-573.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd573txt.htm) Retrieved 22 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Harrison (DD-573).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/573.htm) Retrieved 22 January 2011.
Tin Can Sailors. Benjamin Harrison.
(http://www.destroyers.org/Namesakes/n-BENJAMIN_HARRISON.htm) Retrieved 22 January 2011.