Resources for Patients and their Families

USS John R. Pierce (DD-753)

The USS John R. Pierce (DD-753) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for John Reeves Pierce, a U.S. Naval officer during the first half of the 20th century. John R. Pierce was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.


John R. Pierce was laid down in Staten Island, New York by Bethlehem Steel in March 1944. She was launched in September 1944 and commissioned in December 1944, with Commander C.R. Simmers at the helm. John R. Pierce carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

John R. Pierce began her service in the Pacific in July 1945. There, she participated in operations at Wake Island, Eniwetok, and Honshu before steaming to Shanghai, China to support operations in that region. John R. Pierce returned to the US in March 1946 and was decommissioned and placed on reserve in 1947.

In 1949, the ship was recommissioned and assigned to the Atlantic fleet. Duties included various operations from Greenland to the Canal Zone, as well as destinations as far away as the Mediterranean. In 1952, John R. Pierce was again deployed to the Pacific, where she participated in blockades and bombardments as part of the operations in Korea. It was during one of these battles (near Songjin) that she sustained three hits from enemy weapons, but the damage was not fatal.

John R. Pierce returned to the US later in the year and returned to duty throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean. During this period, she provided a presence during the crisis in Jordan (1957), bolstered security in Lebanon (1958), and stabilized the Dominican Republic after the assassination of General Trujillo (1961). In 1962, John R. Pierce participated in the rescue operation for NASA’s Project Mercury space flight and was part of the deployment of the Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1965, John R. Pierce was re-allocated as a training ship. The ship was eventually decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list in 1973. She was later sold and broken up for scrap.

Asbestos Risk on the USS John R. Pierce (DD-753)

Insulation made from asbestos has been used in industrial and factory settings ever since the 19th century. Asbestos has many properties which also suited it perfectly for use in maritime vessels. As it was resistant to heat and corrosion, naval ships like the USS John R. Pierce employed asbestos products rather extensively in the engineering sections. It was also used to wrap the steam pipes that ran all through John R. Pierce, as well as in the turbines and boilers.

No matter where on the ship a sailor worked, service on a naval vessel meant asbestos exposure to at least some degree. Some positions posed a higher asbestos exposure threat, however. Sailors serving in the engineering sections, working on heavy machinery, putting out fire, or repairing battle damage were more likely to come into contact with asbestos fibers. Because asbestos is actually a mineral, if it becomes damaged the tiny fibers that comprise the substance can separate from the main body, becoming friable. Asbestos fiber in a friable state is more dangerous because the fibers can enter the air where they can then be inhaled or swallowed by those nearby.

Exposure to asbestos is the number one cause of mesothelioma, a serious form of asbestos cancer. Navy veterans serving on the John R. Pierce or other naval vessels who have been diagnosed with this disease may be able to receive compensation for their injury and suffering.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-753.
( Retrieved 7 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS John R. Pierce (DD-753).
( Retrieved 7 February 2011.