The USS Jeffers (DD-621) served in the U.S. Navy for over a decade in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander William N. Jeffers who served in the Civil War. Jeffers was commissioned as a member of the Gleaves class of naval destroyers.
Jeffers was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in March 1942, launched in August, and commissioned in November with Lieutenant Commander W.G. McGarry in command. Supporting a crew complement of 208, Jeffers was armed with six one-half inch machine guns, four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Jeffers began her naval service on the east coast until serving trans-Atlantic escort duty to Casablanca in April 1942. The destroyer then patrolled off Newfoundland and operated off various African ports prior to the invasion of Sicily in June. During and after the assault, Jeffers delivered fire support for troops and conducted anti-submarine patrols. Jeffers returned to the United States in August after escorting cargo ships in the Mediterranean, and operated between the east coast and Scotland until September 1943, when she began serving during preparations for the invasion of Normandy, France.
On D-day, Jeffers conducted patrols and fire support off Utah Beach and remained there until the end of the month. Jeffers was then deployed to the Mediterranean for the invasion of southern France, after which she was converted to destroyer-minesweeper DMS-27 at New York in November. In January 1945, Jeffers was deployed to the Pacific and stationed at Ulithi before the Okinawa invasion. She conducted minesweeping, anti-submarine patrols, and air defense during the assault. Following the attack while operating as a radar picket, Jeffers rescued survivors of Mannert T. Abele which was bombed during a Japanese air attack.
Jeffers conducted minesweeping operations off Okinawa until the Japanese surrender, and continued this duty during the occupation. She was then assigned back to the east coast in January 1946, and embarked on Mediterranean cruises during periods of unrest in 1949 and 1952. From 1953 on, Jeffers operated off the east coast until being decommissioned in May 1955. Jeffers was struck from the Navy list in July 1971 and sold for scrap to the Southern Scrap Material Corporation in May 1973.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Jeffers (DD-621)
Rapid changes in industrial economies late in the 19th century resulted in the proliferation of boilers, steam engines, and other heavy equipment that demanded the use of asbestos insulation. Asbestos insulation and fireproofing was used throughout Jeffers and other ships of its era. The Navy continued to use asbestos material until the late 1970s, when the EPA began to restrict its use. Asbestos exposure is linked to a number of serious medical conditions, including mesothelioma.
Sailors handling heavy machinery were exposed to high levels of asbestos, as were sailors working in fire suppression efforts. Increased exposure to asbestos material, and particularly friable asbestos, increases the health risk. Damaged and worn asbestos products become friable, which is why the danger was greatest to crews working in the harshest conditions.
No amount of asbestos exposure is completely safe. Sailors injured by asbestos during their service often have legal options available to them. A qualified mesothelioma law firm can evaluate your case and help you pursue legal action.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-621.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd621txt.htm) Retrieved 28 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Jeffers (DD-621).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/621.htm) Retrieved 28 January 2011.