The USS Harwood (DD-861) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Bruce Lawrence Harwood, a U.S. Navy officer killed during the early portion of World War II. Harwood was built as a Gearing-class ship.
Harwood was laid down in San Pedro, California by Bethlehem Steel in October 1944. She was launched in May 1945 and commissioned in September 1945, with Commander Reid P. Fiala at the helm. Harwood carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.8 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following a standard period of training and shakedown operations, Harwood began her service in the Pacific in 1946. With aggression in the region recently over, the ship provided support for the occupation and engaged in anti-submarine exercises for approximately a year before returning to the U.S. in 1947. In 1949, the destroyer was equipped with upgraded anti-submarine technology. She was re-designated as DDE-861 and reassigned to the Atlantic fleet.
In the years that followed, Harwood engaged in a number of operations and voyages designed to keep her ready for combat. She made multiple voyages to the Mediterranean and trained with naval forces throughout South America during this time.
In 1961, Harwood received a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) overhaul, during which her bridge was reconstructed, new torpedo tubes were installed, and some anti-aircraft guns were removed to make space for a hangar and launch pad for a helicopter.
In 1962, the newly outfitted Harwood was dispatched to the Caribbean, where she was part of the fleet that supported the quarantine of Cuba during the Missile Crisis. During this period, the ship was re-designated as DD-861. Throughout the years that followed, Harwood spent time in the Mediterranean, South America, the Suez Canal, and Africa, engaged in a variety of peacetime duties and training missions.
Harwood was finally decommissioned in December 1971 and later stricken from the Navy list. The ship was transferred to the Navy of Turkey and renamed Kocatepe. In 1974, the vessel was accidentally sunk by friendly Turkish aircraft during landings on Cyprus.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Harwood (DD-861)
As asbestos was used in so many applications, the toxic fibers could be found nearly everywhere aboard a naval vessel like the USS Harwood. Certain areas contained greater quantities of asbestos products, however. The engineering and boiler rooms of Harwood deployed many different types of asbestos-containing materials to insulate pipes, to cover ship's boilers, and to fireproof parts of the ship's motors and turbines.
Because asbestos fiber is actually a mineral, when something damages it the tiny fibers can shed off and become friable. "Friable" means that the tiny mineral fibers separate from the rest of the asbestos and can become airborne, where they can easily be ingested. The more frequently a person encounters asbestos materials, the greater the chances of developing mesothelioma.
If you are a sailor who has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you may have legal recourse. We have compiled a mesothelioma information kit to provide information about the legal choices available to navy veterans. We will send it to you absolutely free. Simply fill in the form on this page to submit your request.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-861.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd861txt.htm) Retrieved 26 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Harwood (DD-861).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/861.htm) Retrieved 26 February 2011.