The USS Hart(DD-111) served the United States in the interim years between World War I and World War II. The first of two vessels that would be so named, Hart was named for two individuals with that surname: Midshipman Ezekiel B. Hart and Lieutenant Commander John E. Hart, both of whom died in the service of the United States Navy in the 1800s.
Hart was constructed as a result of the Naval Act of 1916, which authorized the creation of a Navy that was “second to none,” giving the United States Navy the authority to build 156 vessels with a budget of half a billion dollars. The authorization allowed for the construction of many classes of vessel, including battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. One component of this unprecedented shipbuilding effort was a three-year program that authorized the construction of fifty Wickes-class destroyers. Hart was one of those destroyers, officially commissioned in May 1919 after being constructed at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. Hart set sail under the command of Commander Harold Jones.
Hart spent her career in Pacific waters. From the time of her commissioning to July 17, 1920, she was part of the destroyer fleet operating off the coast of California. Upon being transferred to Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Hart entered a new phase of service: she was converted to a minelayer and reclassified DM-8. “Laying mines” was an underwater form of defense that involved anchoring explosives under the sea. Several minefields were laid off the coast of California, and in fact, this technique reached its zenith during World War II. WWII also demonstrated the superiority of air power and consequently rendered minelaying largely obsolete.
However, the retirement of the minelaying technique lay many years in the future, and Hart had a successful career in the Pacific. After Mare Island, Hart joined the Mine Detachment of the Navy’s historic Asiatic Fleet. The Asiatic Fleet was charged with protecting the Philippines, and Hart departed for that nation in November of 1920. She spent the next decade conducting peacetime operations in the waters around the Philippines and off the coast of China.
Hart was scheduled for deactivation in 1930, and she sailed from Manila to San Diego, arriving on January 24, 1931. She was officially decommissioned in June of 1931, and in February of 1932, she was sold for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hart (DD-110)
Using asbestos insulation in the design of oceangoing ships was ordered by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship resulted in great loss of life. Vessels like Hart utilized asbestos heavily in ship's boilers and engineering rooms, and to insulate pipes in all sections of the ship.
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“Hart.” Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.
http://www.history.navy.mil/DANFS/h2/hart-i.htm. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
Ship Building 1913-21 - Wilson, Woodrow. GlobalSecurity.org.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/scn-1913-wilson.htm. Retrieved 31 December 31, 2010.
Historic California Posts: Forts Under the Sea—Submarine Mine Defense of San Francisco Bay. Gordon Chappell, Regional Historian, Pacific West Region. National Park Service.
http://www.militarymuseum.org/Mines.html. Retrieved 31 December 2010.