The USS Hatfield (DD-231) served in the US Navy for nearly three decades in the early 20th century. She was named for John Hatfield, who served in the War of 1812. Hatfield was built as a Clemson-class destroyer.
Hatfield was laid down in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Company in June 1918, launched in March, and commissioned in April 1920, with Lieutenant N. Vytlacil in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Hatfield was 314 feet, five inches long and armed with four five-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Hatfield sailed from Brooklyn, New York to Key West, Florida in September 1920 and operated along the east coast from January 1921 until April, when assigned to duty in the Caribbean. Early in 1922, Hatfield operated out of Charleston, South Carolina, and then was deployed to the Mediterranean to serve in Turkish waters until July 1923.
Hatfield returned to New York in August, assigned to the United States Scouting Fleet, and conducted fleet operations along the east coast, Cuba, Central America, and the Gulf of Mexico. Her squadron accompanied President Coolidge to Cuba and Haiti in January 1928 for the Pan-American Conference, and Hatfield was then decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January 1931.
Hatfield was placed with the rotating reserve in April 1932, and was re-assigned to San Diego, California in June, where she operated until 1936. Following a cruise to Spain, France, Algiers, and Italy, Hatfield arrived at Charleston, South Carolina in December and was decommissioned again in April 1938. When reactivated in September 1939, Hatfield operated with the Neutrality Patrol until August 1940 and with the 13th Naval District on the west coast until December 1941. She served as a convoy for merchant ships to Alaskan ports at the beginning of World War II, until March 1944.
Hatfield conducted anti-submarine operations off Seattle, Washington until August 1944, and then was converted into a target-towing vessel with the designation AG-84 in October. She towed targets for aircraft bombing practice out of Port Angles, Washington and San Diego, and also served as a training ship off San Diego. Hatfield was decommissioned in December 1946 and sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corporation.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hatfield (DD-231)
The use of asbestos fireproofing in the construction of naval vessels was required by Congress in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea on the SS Morro Castle caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. Navy ships like Hatfield installed asbestos-containing materials extensively in boilers and engine spaces, and in fireproofing all through the ship.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-231.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd231txt.htm Retrieved 29 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Hatfield (DD-231).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/231.htm Retrieved 29 December 2010.