The USS Jenkins (DD-447) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral Thornton A. Jenkins who served in the Mexican War and the Civil War. Jenkins was a member of the Fletcher class of destroyers.
Jenkins was laid down in Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in November 1941, launched in June 1942, and commissioned in July with Lieutenant Commander H.F. Miller in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Jenkins had a cruising speed of 38 knots and was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Jenkins escorted a convoy from Maine to North Africa in October 1942, served as a ship screen during the invasion of Casablanca, and then was assigned to duty in the Pacific. In January 1943, Jenkins began escort and patrol operations in the Solomon Islands and in the Coral Sea. Jenkins also supported the invasion of New Georgia Island in June and participated in the Battle of Kula Gulf in July.
Jenkins served as an escort and training ship for four months prior to the Gilbert Islands campaign, and then joined the Northern Carrier Group. Following raids in the Marshall Islands, Jenkins escorted torpedo-stricken Lexington to Pearl Harbor in December. Jenkins returned to the Marshall Islands in January 1944 with fuel tanker vessels and participated in amphibious operations at Hollandia and Aitape in April. During the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Jenkins served radar picket duty, which she continued to do from October to the end of November.
In December, Jenkins provided cover for the Luzon Attack Force, and then minesweepers and amphibious operations off Borneo in April. Jenkins returned to the west coast in July 1945 and was decommissioned at San Diego in May 1946. In November 1951, Jenkins was re-commissioned as DDE 447 and was assigned to patrol duty off Korea. Jenkins returned to Pearl Harbor in December and operated there until November 1953, when deployed to patrols and peacekeeping operations in the Far East.
Jenkins provided gunfire support for Marines in Vietnam, from February to July 1966, and then was overhauled at Pearl Harbor for further war deployment in 1967. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list in July 1969 and sold for scrap in February 1971.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Jenkins (DD-447)
Like most ships of her era, Jenkins used asbestos extensively. The mineral could be found from stem to stern, often insulating steam pipes or mixed into paints and cements. In engineering spaces, asbestos fireproofing was particularly abundant. The wide variety of applications for asbestos ensured that almost every World War II Navy sailor was exposed to the mineral while serving. Maritime asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma in many Navy veterans.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-447.
NavSource Naval History, USS Jenkins (DD-447).