The USS Heermann (DD-532) served in the U.S. Navy for over three decades and then was transferred to Argentina. She was named for Lewis Heermann of Germany who voiced the need for better medical care for naval officers in the early 1800s. Heermann was built as a Fletcher-class ship.
Heermann was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in May 1942, launched in December, and commissioned in July 1943 with Commander Dwight M. Agnew in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Heermann was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, as well as six depth charge throwers.
Heermann was first deployed overseas to participate in the assault on the Gilbert Islands with the Southern Attack Force in November 1943. During this assault, Heermann provided gunfire support for ground troops, and returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs in preparation for service in the Marshall Islands. During this deployment, Heermann patrolled of Kwajalein, supported troop landings, and conducted screening duty for aircraft carriers. She also aided in the bombardment of Eniwetok Atoll prior to the invasion there.
In March and April, Heermann participated in operations at the Admiralty Islands as a troop and supply convoy escort, and then spent June 1944 on anti-submarine patrol duty in the Solomon, Admiralty, and Marshall Islands. Heermann spent the rest of the summer escorting convoys to the New Hebrides Islands and New Caledonia Island. In October, Heermann performed screening duty at Leyte and joined Escort Carrier Task Group 77.4. She participated in the battle at Samar and engaged several Japanese vessels, and aided in the sinking of Japanese cruiser Chikuma.
Heermann also served during the Iwo Jima assault in February and March 1945 and in Okinawa in March and April. In August, Heermann was attacked by a kamikaze, which she destroyed, just hours after the war ended. Heermann was on reserve at San Diego between June 1946 and September 1951. Participating in naval exercises off the east coast in 1953, Heermann was deployed to Japan and Korea in 1954 for patrol duty, and alternated between service off the east coast and deployments to the Mediterranean in the late 1950s. Heermann was decommissioned in December 1957, loaned to Argentina in August 1961 as Almirante Brown, and served there until used for scrap in 1982.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Heermann (DD-532)
As the primary characteristic of asbestos is heat and fire resistance, it became the material of choice for fireproofing navy vessels beginning in the 1900s. Asbestos was used almost universally in ships and at naval installations by the U.S. Navy until the late 1970s. On naval vessels such as the USS Heermann, asbestos-based products could be found in nearly every compartment.
Some ship areas deployed asbestos fibers more extensively than others. In compartments on a ship in which fire has a higher chance of occurring, like the pump and boiler rooms, asbestos was used most heavily. No matter what job a sailor performed, asbestos risk was present at some level. If a member of the ship's crew spent the majority of time in the engineering sections, however, the level of their exposure was likely higher than normal. Breathing and ingesting asbestos fibers can lead to the development of a cancer known as mesothelioma, an illness that many navy veterans continue to be diagnosed with as a result of their time in service even today.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-532.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd532txt.htm) Retrieved 19 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Heermann (DD-532).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/532.htm) Retrieved 19 January 2011.
Bosamar.com. United States Seventh Fleet Task Unit 77.4.3. USS Heermann (DD-532).
(http://www.bosamar.com/usforces/dd532.html) Retrieved 19 January 2011.