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USS Hugh Purvis (DD-709)

The USS Hugh Purvis (DD-709) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Marine Private Hugh Purvis who served on an expedition to Korea in the late 19th century. Hugh Purvis was a member of the Allen M. Sumner class of destroyers.


Hugh Purvis was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in May 1944, launched in December, and commissioned in March 1945 with Commander B. L. Gurnette in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Hugh Purvis was armed six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Hugh Purvis was assigned to training exercises in Hawaiian waters after World War II ended and was stationed at Casco Bay, Maine in April 1946. The destroyer underwent overhaul at New York and after serving in the Caribbean was assigned to Newport, Virginia as her home port in December 1948. Hugh Purvis was deployed to Europe in February 1947 and then conducted anti-submarine exercises off New England, deployed with the 6th Fleet in September 1948 for five months of peace-keeping duties, and conducted reserve training cruises out of New Orleans from June 1949 to December 1950.

Hugh Purvis was deployed to the Mediterranean and Caribbean on several occasions in the early 1950s. January 1955, Hugh Purvis was deployed for anti-submarine exercises with the 6th Fleet during such incidents as the Suez Crisis and the evacuation of refugees from Haifa Israel in 1956. Hugh Purvis also served during the Lebanon crisis in 1958, and then underwent FRAM overhaul at Boston Naval Shipyard, which included retrofitting and installation of a helicopter landing deck.

Hugh Purvis took part in anti-submarine exercises in January 1961 and operated with the fleet during the Berlin crisis in 1961. The destroyer then participated in the recovery of Colonel John Glenn’s Mercury space capsule in January 1962, and was also on duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1964, Hugh Purvis received a new radar structure during an overhaul at Boston, and in 1965, she was fitted with a conformed planar array sonar. Hugh Purvis was decommissioned in June 1972, transferred to Turkey in July, and broken up for scrap in 1994.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Hugh Purvis (DD-709)

New fire safety laws were put into place beginning in the 1930s that called for more effective fire suppression systems aboard naval vessels, greatly increasing the use of asbestos insulation and fireproofing. On the Purvis, asbestos was installed in nearly every area of the ship, from the engine and boiler rooms to the ship’s mess and bunks.

Some of Hugh Purvis’s crew had greater contact with asbestos, especially those assigned to the engine room, as firefighters, or working in damage control parties. Greater exposure to asbestos is believed to increase the chance of developing an asbestos-related illness.

Most diseases caused by asbestos take years to manifest. The most serious condition is mesothelioma cancer, which is nearly always terminal. Veterans of the Hugh Purvis that later became ill with asbestos disease may have legal recourse. Only an experienced mesothelioma law firm can evaluate your case and explain your legal rights.



Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-709.
( Retrieved 8 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Hugh Purvis (DD-709).
( Retrieved 8 February 2011.

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