The USS Hayler (DD-997) served in the U.S. Navy for two decades in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She was named for Vice Admiral Robert W. Hayler who served in the First and Second World Wars and as commandant of the Sixth Naval District. Hayler was commissioned as a Spruance-class destroyer.
Hayler was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in October 1980, launched in March 1982, and commissioned in March 1983 with Commander Paul W. Ecker in command. Carrying a crew of 296, Hayler was 563 feet long and had a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 20 knots. She was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, two surface-to-air missile launchers, a Harpoon anti-ship missile battery, a Phalanx CIWS anti-ship missile defense system, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter.
Hayler was deployed to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean in the fall of 1984, and sailed from Norfolk, Virginia in 1986 to participate in UNITAS XXVII in Central and South America. The destroyer served in the Baltic and North Seas for three months in 1987, and operated in Northern Europe in 1988 as flagship for Commander, Standing Naval Forces, Atlantic. Hayler was also part of Northstar 89 which took place off Norway and England in 1989. She returned to Central and South American in June 1990 for UNITAS XXXI.
Hayler reported to the Bath Iron Works Shipyard at Portland, Maine in 1991 for a major overhaul. During this overhaul, Hayler received a vertical missile launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles. In September 1993, Hayler was deployed from Norfolk to the Red Sea where she conducted a record number of ship boardings during United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Hayler then enforced United Nations sanctions off Haiti in 1994.
n November 1994, Hayler underwent six months of maintenance at Norfolk, and was then deployed to the Mediterranean with Theodore Roosevelt, during which she served as flagship for Commander, Destroyer Squadron 32. Hayler operated in the Middle East in 1998 and off South America in 2000, and then supported Operation Enduring Freedom beginning in September 2001. She then participated in Maritime Interdiction Operations in the Mediterranean, and took part in counter-drug operations in the Pacific in 2003. Decommissioned in August, Hayler was struck from the Navy list in April 2004 and sunk in November.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hayler (DD-997
Industrial sites began employing asbestos late in the 19th century because it was an ideal fireproofing material for construction and manufacturing applications. In the early 20th century, the navy began using asbestos insulation for similar reasons on navy ships. Boiler tenders, gunners, engine mechanics and other occupations on board ships were considered high risk occupations for asbestos exposure as much of the equipment they worked with was insulated with asbestos products. When performing maintenance or repairs, the asbestos product on this equipment would often become disrupted sending tiny fiber particles into the air. Breathing in asbestos dust was common on navy ships and was subsequently found to cause mesothelioma.
As asbestos use became more widespread, navy veterans began to be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in large numbers. In the 1970s, most uses of asbestos were banned. As the USS Hayler was built after the era of heavy asbestos use, asbestos exposure on board this ship may have been limited.Sources