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USS John Rodgers (DD-983)

The USS John Rodgers (DD-983) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades in the late 20th century. She was named for Commodore John Rodgers and in honor of the naval “dynasty” of Naval officers named John Rodgers which descended from the Commodore. John Rodgers was constructed as a Spruance-class vessel in the U.S. Navy.

Construction

John Rodgers was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in August 1976, launched in February 1978, and commissioned in July 1979 with Commander Michael H. Loy in command. Carrying a crew of 296, John Rodgers was 563 feet long, with a total displacement of 7,800 tons. She was driven by four gas turbine engines, which could be operated independently, and two screws supporting a cruising speed of 30 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at a speed of 20 knots. As a Spruance-class destroyer, John Rodgers was one of the first naval ships to be powered by gas turbines.

John Rodgers was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter. She also had three gas turbine generators that could produce 2,000 kilowatts of power.

Naval History

John Rodgers spent the 1980s in the Atlantic, visited Copenhagen, Denmark in September 1983, and became the first vessel in Destroyer Squadron 6 to have Tomahawk missile launchers in 1985. The destroyer served in the Mediterranean in 1990 and was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, with the George Washington Battle Group, for six months beginning in October 1997.

Commanding officers included Commander Michael H. Loy as well as Commander George F. A. Wagner, Commander Lawrence M. Bergen, Jr., Commander Jack R. Carpenter, Jr., Commander Roger C. Easton, Jr., Commander Michael A. LeFever, and Commander James M. Carr III.

John Rodgers was decommissioned in September 1998, and was moored with other inactive naval vessels at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was later broken up for scrap by International Shipbreakers Ltd, LLC in late-December 2006 at the Port of Brownsville, Texas.

Asbestos Risk on the USS John Rodgers (DD-983)

New fire safety laws were enacted in the decade of the 1930s calling for better fireproofing on maritime vessels, and this began the use of asbestos insulation in the construction of navy ships. Asbestos was used extensively as an insulator and to fireproof equipment aboard all ships, exposing crewmen to the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma. Though John Rodgers was built as the widespread use of asbestos aboard Navy craft was winding down (once the dangers of it were made public), it is very likely that asbestos was installed in most areas, including the ship’s machinery and for insulation and fireproofing.

Some areas within the ship contained engine machinery and therefore needed a greater quantity of asbestos-based insulation. Asbestos was deployed as an insulating material for boilers, pumps, and engines. Most of the crew assigned to or performing repair work on the USS John Rodgers was most likely exposed to asbestos fibers to some extent. Members of the crew who were stationed in the engine room, worked on heavy machinery, or worked in damage control would have been exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Unfortunately it has been determined that after asbestos is inhaled or swallowed on a regular basis that asbestos dust can damage the thin membrane known as the mesothelium and may cause malignant mesothelioma.

Sources

Sources

NavSource Naval History. USS John Rodgers (DD-983).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/983.htm) Retrieved 4 March 2011.

Tin Can Sailors. The National Association of Destroyer Veterans. John Rodgers.
(http://www.destroyers.org/Namesakes/n-JOHN_RODGERS.htm) Retrieved 4 March 2011.

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