The USS Hart (DD-594) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II and remained on the Navy list until the early 1970s. She was named for Lieutenant Patrick Hart who was killed in the Battle of Midway during the Second World War. Hart was commissioned as a Fletcher-class naval vessel.
Hart was laid down by the Puget Sound Navy Yard in August 1943, launched in September 1944, and commissioned in November with Commander W.D. Coleman in command. Armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, Hart carried a crew of 273 and was 376 feet, five inches long.
Hart utilized her training time to take part in experimental high-speed refueling exercises in December 1944 and January 1945. In February, the destroyer sailed for Pearl Harbor, and served as an escort for aircraft carrier Intrepid later in the month and in early March, before being deployed to Ulithi. Hart screened aircraft carriers and protected them from enemy aircraft prior to the Okinawa operation, and in April conducted escort duty for troop transports. During the invasion, Hart was assigned to patrol duty in the area.
Hart departed Okinawa later in April and was then deployed to the Philippines for the invasion of Borneo. She conducted patrols of the South China Sea in June and began shore bombardments for Australian troops at Brunei Bay. Hart also helped minesweepers navigate through minefields at Balikpapan in July, where the destroyer also fired on enemy installations to protect troops onshore.
Hart was detached from the invasion operations to escort General MacArthur in Cleveland to Manila, and then sailed for Leyte. The destroyer participated in training exercises and escort operations at Subic Bay and then was assigned to the North China Force after the surrender of Japan in August. In September, Hart protected Army occupation troops landing at Jinsen, Korea, and transported boarding parties to inspect and disarm Japanese ships.
Hart returned to the United States in February 1946 and was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Long Beach, California in May. The destroyer was struck from the Navy list in April 1973 and sold for scrap in December.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hart (DD-594)
Servicemen sailing or doing repairs on the USS Hart were most likely exposed to asbestos material to one degree or another. There are some sailors who may have been subjected to higher levels of asbestos exposure, however. Those sailors who were assigned to work in the engine room of the ship, for example, were responsible for maintaining and repairing the ships engines. This equipment contained a number of asbestos components including asbestos gaskets, valves and cement to name a few. Replacing parts often required that these materials be cut or sanded which released asbestos fibers into the air making it easy for those in the area to breathe them in.
Dangerous levels of asbestos dust were also found in shipyards where work was always being performed on naval vessels. While repairing ships, very small particles of asbestos could also stick to the clothing of workers who risked exposing their families when they went home at the end of the day. Inhaling asbestos fibers can result in them getting stuck in the lungs and may eventually cause the development of mesothelioma.
The incidence of mesothelioma is strongly correlated to the level of exposure to asbestos as well as the total time of exposure. Legal options exist for anybody coping with this, or any other asbestos-related ailment.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-594.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd594txt.htm) Retrieved 26 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Hart (DD-594).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/594.htm) Retrieved 26 January 2011.