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USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427)

The USS Hillary P. Jones (DD-427) served in the U.S. Navy for less than a decade in the early 20th century, and was then transferred to China. She was named for Admiral Hilary Pollard Jones who served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I. Hillary P. Jones was built as a Benson-class destroyer.

Construction

Hillary P. Jones was laid down by the Charleston Navy Yard in May 1938, launched in December 1939, and commissioned in September 1940 with Lieutenant Commander S.R. Clarke in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Hillary P. Jones was 348 feet, four inches long, with a displacement of 2,395 tons, and armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six one-half inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Following routine exercises, Hillary P. Jones was deployed for the Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean in December 1940 until March 1941, and conducted training exercises off New England until the end of April. Hillary P. Jones escorted cargo ships in the North Atlantic and rescued 11 survivors of Reuben James when it was sunk by torpedoes. She also served convoy duty in the Mediterranean, battled German forces off Anzio, Italy, and attacked and destroyed U-616 near Algeria in May 1944.

Hillary P. Jones participated in the training for the invasion of southern France in June and July, and also served as a convoy escort. During the invasion, Hillary P. Jones provided gunfire support and conducted electronic jamming of radio-controlled bombs. She also supported the First Airborne Task Force in destroying enemy gun emplacements and infrastructure. Hillary P. Jones received the Navy Unit Commendation for her service during this time.

Hillary P. Jones continued convoy duty in the Mediterranean from October 1944 to January 1945, and then was overhauled in Maine and transferred to the Pacific Fleet in April. In May and June 1945, Hillary P. Jones operated in Pearl Harbor and then with patrol forces in the Carolines. Hillary P. Jones also made escort voyages to Okinawa, and sailed to Okinawa and Tokyo when Japan surrendered.

Hillary P. Jones was placed in the Charleston Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet in February 1947 and then loaned to the Republic of China in February 1954. Following this transfer, she was renamed Han Yang under service with the Nationalist Chinese Navy. The former Hillary P. Jones was stricken and taken apart for scrap in 1974.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427)

On Hilary P. Jones asbestos insulation was used in most sections of the ship, both in machinery and wrapped around steam pipes. Asbestos could be found in greater quantities in the engineering and mechanical sections of the ship. Non-engineering areas of the ship also used asbestos-containing materials, in particular the mess and kitchens, bunkrooms, fuel tanks, ammunition storage, and any compartment that held heavy equipment.

Regular exposure to asbestos has been conclusively linked to a number of serious illnesses later in life, including mesothelioma cancer. Sailors stationed in engine rooms have the greatest chance to become ill, but all crew aboard Jones had some risk from their exposure. The crews overseeing her Maine overhaul were also at risk from on board asbestos, as removing or servicing existing asbestos parts can release clouds of asbestos fibers into the surrounding air, where they are most dangerous.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-427. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd427txt.htm) Retrieved 13 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/427.htm) Retrieved 13 January 2011.

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