The USS Howorth (DD-592) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II and remained on the Navy list until the early 1960s. She was named for Acting Master William L. Howorth who served in the Civil War. Howorth was laid down as a Fletcher-class naval destroyer.
Howorth was laid down by the Puget Sound Navy Yard in November 1941, launched in January 1943, and commissioned in April 1944 with Commander E.S. Burns in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Howorth was 376 feet, five inches long and featured an armament of five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Howorth began her naval service as a convoy escort to Pearl Harbor in July 1944 following training. In August, Howorth was assigned to the 7th fleet at Hollandia, New Guinea and conducted escort duty as well as anti-submarine duty in the Solomon Islands. The destroyer participated in the Battle for Leyte Gulf in October, guarding transports, and then served on convoy escort missions to Kossol Roads, Guam, and Manus following the initial assault. Howorth also operated during the Ormoc landings and the Mindoro invasion. In December, she engaged Japanese kamikazes at Managerin Bay and received some damage while shooting down an aircraft.
In January 1945, Howorth served during the Lingayen operations to protect ground forces and also fought off attacks from the air. Howorth continued combat duties at Iwo Jima in February, and then fired on many Japanese aircraft at Okinawa while troops stormed ashore.
Howorth was repaired at Mare Island Navy Yard in May 1945, and then was deployed to Adak, Alaska in July. Following the end of the war, Howorth sailed to Japan to protect flight operations in the area and take on former prisoners of war. Howorth returned to the United States in November and was decommissioned in April 1946. The destroyer remained on the Navy list until June 1961, and was sunk as a target in March 1962 off San Clemente Island, California. Howorth was awarded five battle stars for her service in the Second World War.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Howorth (DD-592)
The new technologies and methods introduced in the 1800s brought about an increased need for asbestos products like insulation. Civilian and military vessels like Howorth used asbestos-containing materials as an insulating material for their engineering sections. Asbestos has many characteristics that made it seem ideal for use in naval vessels, such as its resistance to heat and corrosion. Parts of the vessel that produced the most heat, like the engines and boilers, were heavily insulated with asbestos.
Asbestos insulation that is damaged or worn becomes friable, easily releasing nearly invisible fibers into the surrounding air. Inhaling these airborne fibers can lead to mesothelioma later in life. Because the sailors on Howorth did not know that breathing asbestos-contaminated air could cause serious illness, few wore any protective gear. The combat damage sustained by Howorth while battling Japanese forces likely increased the amount of friable asbestos on board, and with it, the risk to the crew.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-592.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd592txt.htm) Retrieved 25 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Howorth (DD-592).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/592.htm) Retrieved 25 January 2011.