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USS Henry A. Wiley (DD-749)

The USS Henry A. Wiley (DD-749) remained on the Navy list for two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Admiral Henry Aristo Wiley who served in World War I and as Chairman of the Maritime Commission. Henry A. Wiley was a member of the Allen M. Sumner class of destroyers.

Construction

Henry A. Wiley was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in November 1943, launched in April 1944, and commissioned in August with Commander R. E. Gadrow in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Henry A. Wiley was 376 feet, six inches long and armed with eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes. She was driven by General Electric geared turbines that supported a cruising speed of 36.5 knots and a range of 3,300 nautical miles at 20 knots.

Naval History

Henry A. Wiley sailed to the Pacific in November 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor in December, and within the fleet was nicknamed “Hammering Hank.” Henry A. Wiley served as an escort for New York on the way to Iwo Jima and rendezvoused with other vessels there in February 1945. The destroyer provided screening duties and fire support during the invasion and remained off Iwo Jima until March. Later in the month, Henry A. Wiley arrived at Okinawa for minesweeping operations and succeeding in firing down several kamikaze planes.

Henry A. Wiley was then assigned to radar picket duty and destroyed several more enemy aircraft, rescued survivors of Luce, and was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for her actions off Okinawa. She then screened minesweepers in the East China Sea from June until the war ended, and remained in the region for similar duties for the rest of 1945. Henry A. Wiley arrived at San Francisco in February 1946 and was decommissioned in January 1947. Placed in reserve at San Diego, Henry A. Wiley remained on that status until being struck from the Navy list in October 1970 and sold for scrap in May 1972. Henry A. Wiley also received four battle stars for her service in World War II.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Henry A. Wiley (DD-749)

Whether sailors on board the USS Henry A. Wiley spent their time in the boiler room and engineering sections of the ship or in the mess hall and food preparation areas, he or she would have likely been exposed to asbestos. Some members of Henry A. Wiley’s crew may have suffered greater asbestos exposure, however, especially if they worked in high heat areas containing heavy duty equipment like pumps, boilers and engines. This equipment was manufactured with asbestos components like gaskets and valves as well as insulation to provide protection from extreme heat and fire.

Shipyard workers were also at risk as they performed repairs and routine maintenance of ships while they were docked. In addition, because workers could bring the dust from asbestos products back home on their clothes at the end of the day, families of dockyard workers were also at risk of asbestos exposure. When absorbed into the body, asbestos dust can become stuck in the respiratory tract and may eventually cause the development of mesothelioma cancer.

The more regularly a person comes into contact with asbestos-containing materials, the greater the odds of being diagnosed with this asbestos disease. As asbestos is currently the primary known source of malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related conditions, there may be legal options available for victims who have been diagnosed with them.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-749.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd749txt.htm) Retrieved 14 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Henry A. Wiley (DD-749).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/749.htm) Retrieved 14 February 2011.

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