The USS Holder (DD-819) served in the U.S. Navy for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Randolph Mitchell Holder who served in World War II. Holder was built as a Gearing-class naval ship.
Holder was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in April 1945, launched in August, and commissioned in May 1946 with Commander Barry K. Atkins in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Holder was 390 feet, six inches in length and had a displacement of 3,460 tons. The destroyer was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Holder participated in training exercises in the Caribbean and on the east coast, and then sailed to the Mediterranean in October 1946 for duty with the 6th Fleet. In March 1947, Holder began anti-submarine training exercises out of Newport and also in the Caribbean Sea. Holder sailed to Europe as part of a midshipman training cruise in June and July 1949, was reclassified as DDE-819 in March 1950, and returned to the Mediterranean during the Suez Canal conflict in 1956 and during unrest at Lebanon in 1958.
Holder was reclassified as DD-819 in August 1962 and operated during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization Overhaul followed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and Holder then participated in fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean. Holder was assigned to anti-submarine warfare training in 1964 and 1965, and from January to February 1965, Holder aided in the recovery of NASA’s Gemini II capsule.
Holder served in the Atlantic until June 1966, when she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet. During this deployment, Holder operated as a plane guard for Ranger in the Tonkin Gulf, and provided gunfire support off Vietnam in the summer. Holder also provided plane guard support for Intrepid, and returned to Norfolk in December. Decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in October 1976, Holder was transferred to Ecuador, under the name Presidente Elroy Alfaro in February 1977, and was broken up for scrap in 1991.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Holder (DD-819)
Nearly every compartment on Holder contained asbestos materials. The highest concentrations of asbestos could be found in engineering and the boiler room. Elsewhere in the ship, asbestos was used as pipe covering, in paints and cements, and even in glue.
No matter what your assignment, sailing on a Navy vessel meant probable exposure to asbestos at some level. Crewmen assigned to engineering sections, working on heavy machinery, as firefighters, or repairing damage often had the greatest total exposure. The probability of developing an asbestos-related disease is believed to increase with regular, long-term exposure to the mineral. Navy veterans suffer such diseases disproportionally to members of the other armed services. This is likely due to the quantity of asbestos products on board ships like Holder, long stints at sea, and the close confines of ship-based work. If you or a loved one became ill with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related ailment after serving in the Navy, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-819.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd819txt.htm) Retrieved 18 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. Holder (DD-819).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/819.htm) Retrieved 18 February 2011.