The USS Hickox (DD-673) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for a decade and a half in the mid-20th century, and was later transferred to South Korea. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Ralph Hickox who served aboard USS Truxton in World War II. Hickox was built as a Fletcher-class naval destroyer.
Hickox was laid down by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Kearny, New Jersey in March 1943, launched in July, and commissioned in September with Commander William M. Sweetser in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Hickox was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Hickox was deployed to the Pacific war zone via Pearl Harbor. She departed Pearl in January 1944 to serve as a protective screen for the aircraft carriers of Task Force 58. During this deployment, Hickox accompanied the carriers during operations at Truck, the Marshall Islands, and New Guinea, as well as the Mariana Islands in June before the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Hickox downed several Japanese aircraft during this assault, and then defended the carriers during air strikes on Guam before returning for the Battle for Leyte Gulf in October.
In November, Hickox operated with the carriers for troop landings at Mindoro, and following more duty in the Philippines, participated in the raids against Tokyo in April 1945. Hickox provided anti-aircraft fire at the Iwo Jima assault and then at Okinawa, where she also provide screening and radar picket duties. Detached in May, Hickox returned to the United States for repairs at San Francisco, during which the war ended and the destroyer was decommissioned in December 1946.
Hickox was re-commissioned in May 1951 and was based out of Newport, Rhode Island. She served with the Atlantic Fleet until being deployed to duty off Korea as a carrier screen, and returned to Newport after continuing westward and eventually completed a round-the-world voyage by April 1953. Hickox sailed to Europe in late-1954 and early-1955 and to the Mediterranean in the summer of 1957. The destroyer was decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in December 1957, transferred to South Korea in November 1968, and broken up for scrap in 1989.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Hickox (DD-673)
The Hickox deployed asbestos products in many areas throughout the ship. Crewmen working in certain jobs had a greater chance of exposure: sailors laboring in the engine room, maintaining heavy machinery, dealing with fire, or in damage control parties were most likely to inhale asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos fibers promote tumor formation in the mesothelium, and those tumors can develop into full-blown mesothelioma.
The quantity and total duration of asbestos exposure affects the chance of becoming ill. Working with damaged and worn asbestos products increases the risk to crew, as such products easily release individual fibers into the surrounding air. Products in this state are called friable, and were often found in heavy-use areas like engineering. That, combined with Hickox’s long deployments at sea, put her engine room crew at significant risk for asbestos-related disease. If you or someone you love became ill after serving aboard this ship, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to learn your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-673. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd673txt.htm) Retrieved 3 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Hickox (DD-673).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/673.htm) Retrieved 3 February 2011.