The USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the early 20th century. She was named for Joshua Frederick Cockey Talbott who represented the second Congressional district of Maryland and who also served as Insurance Commissioner for Maryland. J. Fred Talbott was built as a Wickes-class ship.
J. Fred Talbott ship was laid down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company in July 1918, launched in December, and commissioned in June 1919 with Commander T.G. Ellyson in command. Carrying a crew of 103, J. Fred Talbott was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
J. Fred Talbott deployed from Newport, Rhode Island to the Mediterranean in July 1919, and served in Europe post World War I. In June 1920, J. Fred Talbott returned to the United States and patrolled the east coast until being decommissioned at Philadelphia from January 1923 until May 1930. When reactivated, J. Fred Talbott conducted anti-submarine training, fleet operations, trained reserves and midshipmen, and protected United States interests in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
J. Fred Talbott was assigned to patrol duty in the Atlantic near the Panama Canal when World War II began in Europe. She escorted convoys between New Orleans, Cuba, and the Panama Canal following the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. In January 1944, J. Fred Talbott was overhauled in Boston and, in February, was assigned to escort a trans-Atlantic convoy to Casablanca, and subsequently operated as an escort from Iceland to the Caribbean.
J. Fred Talbott underwent conversion in New York and was reclassified as AG-81 in September 1944. In November, she operated out of Port Everglades, Florida, to serve as a target ship for torpedo bombers until the end of World War II. J. Fred Talbott returned to Boston in April 1946, was decommissioned in May, and stricken from the Navy list in June. She was then sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Corporation in December.
Asbestos Risk on the USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156)
Asbestos was used to fireproof and insulate key areas and systems aboard J. Fred Talbott. Most of her crew was exposed to the mineral during the course of their service. The greatest risk was to sailors laboring in the engine room and near boilers. Any exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a cancer that affects an unfortunate number of Navy veterans. If your loved one was diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and once served aboard J. Fred Talbott, the ship is one likely source of exposure.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-156.
NavSource Naval History, USS Dickerson (DD-156).