The USS James C. Owens (DD-776) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant James C. Owens, Jr., who was killed at the Battle of Midway during the Second World War. James C. Owens was commissioned as an Allen M. Sumner class naval destroyer.
James C. Owens was laid down at San Pedro, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in April 1944, launched in October, and commissioned in February 1945 with Commander R. N. Blair in command. Carrying a crew of 336, James C. Owens was 376 feet, six inches in length and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
James C. Owens sailed to Pearl Harbor as an escort for California in May 1945, and then served convoy escort duty to Eniwetok and Ulithi and then to Okinawa in mid-June. Joining Destroyer Squadron 24 at Kerama Retto, James C. Owens converged with a cruiser-destroyer striking force at Leyte, Philippines and conducted anti-shipping sweeps in the East China Sea. She then conducted various duties during the occupation of Japan.
James C. Owens returned to the west coast in December and arrived at New York in mid-January. The destroyer then operated from New England to Texas and conducted anti-submarine exercises and training out of Newport, Rhode Island. In July 1947, James C. Owens was deployed with the 6th Fleet to the Mediterranean until December, and returned in 1948 during periods of unrest in the Middle East. James C. Owens was decommissioned in April 1950 at Charleston, South Carolina.
In September, James C. Owens was re-commissioned and then deployed to Korea in February 1952 until June, and then served a second tour off Korea from November 1953 until March 1954. James C. Owens served in the Mediterranean in 1956, 1957 during the Suez crisis, 1959, 1961, 1963, and 1966. The destroyer received an FRAM II overhaul at Charleston in 1962 and was modified to accommodate helicopters in 1964.
James C. Owens operated with nuclear submarines in 1964 and served as a recovery ship for the Gemini V space mission. She served off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and operated during a series of Apollo unmanned space launches in August 1966. The destroyer was decommissioned in July 1973 and transferred to Brazil as Sergipe, where she was broken up for scrap in October 1995.
Asbestos Risk on the USS James C. Owens (DD-776)
Asbestos-containing materials were used in almost every area of James C. Owens, as a component of many items of ship’s equipment as well as insulation in many compartments. Areas containing pumps, engines and boilers contained a greater quantity of asbestos. Because asbestos-containing materials were such excellent insulators, they were also used to cover steam pipes running throughout the ship. Even the ship’s mess was fireproofed with asbestos.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-776.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd776txt.htm) Retrieved 15 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS James C. Owens (DD-776).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/776.htm) Retrieved 15 February 2011.