The USS Henry B. Wilson (DD-957) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-to-late-20th century. She was named for Admiral Henry Braid Wilson who commanded the patrol forces of the Atlantic Fleet during World War I and later served as Superintendent of the Naval Academy. Henry B. Wilson was commissioned as a Charles F. Adams class ship.
Reclassified as DDG-7 in April 1957, Henry B. Wilson was laid down at Bay City, Michigan by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in February 1958, launched in April 1959, and commissioned in August 1960 with Commander Lawrence D. Caney in command. Carrying a crew of 333 to 350, Henry B. Wilson was 437 feet long with a displacement of 4,526 tons. She was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, and six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes.
Henry B. Wilson was the largest vessel to be side-launched and built on the Great Lakes at the time. The guided missile destroyer conducted shakedown training in the Caribbean and arrived at San Diego in May 1961. Henry B. Wilson participated in missile system tests and fleet exercises over the next few months, and was then deployed to the western Pacific in January 1962. During this deployment, Henry B. Wilson participated in anti-submarine exercises, and returned home in July 1962.
Henry B. Wilson operated off the California coast until October 1963 and then was deployed to the Western Pacific with aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. The destroyer served during peacekeeping operations between Japan and the Philippines until returning home in April 1964. While on duty in the Far East from June to November 1965, Henry B. Wilson was designated flagship of Destroyer Squadron 21 at Luzon. She then served in the Gulf of Tonkin to conduct rescue and air defense picket duty, and also provided shore bombardment support.
Henry B. Wilson returned to San Diego during an escort mission for Midway. Following a year of service on the west coast, Henry B. Wilson was deployed during the Vietnam War from December 1966 to May 1967 before returning to San Diego. She was stationed at Subic Bay, Philippines in 1981 and called at ports along the west coast, such as Seattle, Washington in 1983, and Vancouver, British Columbia in 1984, 1985, and 1986. Henry B. Wilson was decommissioned in October 1989, struck from the Navy list in 1990, and sunk off California in 2003.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Henry B. Wilson (DD-957)
On Henry B. Wilson asbestos-containing material was used in almost all compartments, both in machinery and as insulation for steam pipes. While certain sections on board the vessel contained pumps and engines and thus contained even more asbestos, the fireproofing material, nonetheless could be found all throughout the ship.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the connection between asbestos exposure and asbestos disease was made public. Mesothelioma is the most life-threatening form of asbestos disease and is caused by exposure to this toxic substance that existed in very high concentrations on navy ships like the USS Henry B. Wilson. As a result of their naval service, many veterans who served on board these ships are still being diagnosed today with this very serious illness as a result of the asbestos exposure that they sustained on the ships and in the shipyards.
The legal system provides options to former Navy personnel who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Please fill in the form on this page and we will send you an information kit, absolutely free of charge, so that you can learn more.Sources