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USS James E. Kyes (DD-787)

The USS James E. Kyes (DD-787) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century before being transferred to Taiwan. She was named for Commander James Ellsworth Kyes who was noted for his heroism in operations against enemy submarines in World War II. James E. Kyes was built as a Gearing-class ship.

Construction

James E. Kyes was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in December 1944, launched in August 1945, and commissioned in February 1946 with Commander K. E. Shook in command. Carrying a crew of 336, James E. Kyes was 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.

Naval History

James E. Kyes departed Seattle, Washington in June 1946 to Pearl Harbor, and returned troops to the United States in July. Operations off the California coast preceded a deployment to the western Pacific, where James E. Kyes operated with the 7th Fleet off China to help repel communist forces. James E. Kyes then operated off Japan and along the Korean coast, before returning to San Diego in June 1947. In September 1948, the destroyer patrolled the East China Sea and the Tsushima Strait, and then served her first round of duty off Inchon, Korea in January 1949.

From April 1949 to June 1950, James E. Kyes was in San Diego, and then returned to Korea to provide fire support for onshore troops and then assumed patrol duty off Korea’s east coast in October. James E. Kyes returned to Korea while en-route to the United States in November, and remained there until January 1951, while an additional tour began in November, when James E. Kyes served on the Formosa Patrol. She arrived at Long Beach, California in late-June.

James E. Kyes returned to the Far East seven times from February 1954 to March 1962, which included deployments to Korea and for nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. She underwent FRAM I conversion in 1962 at Bremerton, Washington, and was deployed again to the Far East in October 1963. James E. Kyes returned to the region for naval exercises in 1965 as well as for duty off Vietnam in 1966. Decommissioned in March 1973, James E. Kyes was transferred to Taiwan as Chien Yang, reclassified as Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-912, and remained in commission there until December 2004.

Asbestos Risk on the USS James E. Kyes (DD-787)

Since asbestos was very versatile, the toxic fibers could be found throughout the ship in an enormous variety of applications. Essentially every crewman aboard James E. Kyes suffered exposure to asbestos fibers to some extent, regardless of his assigned duties. Crewmen maintaining ship's machinery were more heavily exposed, as were those serving in damage control crews. A sailor’s risk for developing an asbestos disease increases with his exposure.

The FRAM conversion of Kyes presented an additional asbestos hazard to her crew and the shipyard workers performing the overhaul. When crews removed old asbestos insulation, very small particles of asbestos became airborne. This dust was an immediate danger to the workers handling the insulation, and a secondhand source of exposure for their families. When inhaled into the lungs, asbestos dust damages the thin membrane known as the mesothelium and may lead to mesothelioma cancer. There are legal options available to those suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-787.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd787txt.htm) Retrieved 16 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History. James E. Kyes (DD-787).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/787.htm) Retrieved 16 February 2011.

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