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USS John W. Thomason (DD-760)

The USS John W. Thomason (DD-760) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for John William Thomason, Jr., a U.S. Navy officer during the first half of the 20th century. John W. Thomason was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.

Construction

John W. Thomason was laid down in San Francisco, California by Bethlehem Steel in November 1943. She was launched in September 1944 and commissioned in October 1945, with Commander W.L. Tagg at the helm. John W. Thomason 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 W. Thomason began her service in the Pacific in January 1949, supporting Marines along the coast of China, training at Okinawa, and partnering with British ships training near Indochina and Korea. John W. Thomason then returned to the US, but her stay was brief: tensions in North Korea quickly exploded, and the ship returned to the region in September 1950.

The remainder of 1950, much of 1951, and the start of 1952 were spent supporting various operations in Korea. During these deployments, John W. Thomason fired on railway targets in the Songjin area, shared duties on the Formosa Patrol, and screened larger units. In mid 1952 she took a brief respite in the U.S., but the ship was again deployed to Korea in early 1953. This deployment included engagements with on-shore batteries that resulted in multiple minor shrapnel hits. John W. Thomason was in Korea when the armistice was declared in July, and she returned to the U.S. in September.

During the remainder of the 1950s, John W. Thomason patrolled Korean waters, sailed to Alaska, and conducted maneuvers in Hawaii. In 1959, she was one of the first ships to receive a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) upgrade, and she then spent the 1960s visiting Laos, supporting a NASA mission, and operating in support of actions in Vietnam. She was finally decommissioned in 1970 and was transferred to Taiwan in 1974. The Taiwanese Navy decommissioned her in 2000 and placed the ship in reserve.

Asbestos Risk on the USS John W. Thomason (DD-760)

Because asbestos was used in so many places aboard John W. Thomason, essentially all crewmen risked being exposed at one point or another. Although nearly every crewman aboard the ship had the potential to be exposed to asbestos, those working with the engines and boilers were exposed more repeatedly. Asbestos products were extremely versatile and used in hundreds of applications, so the material could be found in virtually every corridor and compartment on the ship.

Drydock and shipyard servicemen were also at risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers at dangerous levels. The families of dock workers that had never even stepped foot into the dockyard or on a ship were at risk for second hand exposure as asbestos would cling to workers’ clothing and be brought home from work at the end of the day. When breathed in or swallowed, asbestos becomes lodged in the lungs and may eventually result in mesothelioma, a serious type of asbestos disease.

Personnel working daily with damaged asbestos insulation over an extensive time period have a much greater risk of developing mesothelioma than personnel with high levels of exposure over short time frames or mild levels of inhalation over a longer period. Naval and civilian personnel who have contracted mesothelioma as a result of their work on a navy ship or in one of the Nation’s shipyards have legal rights. Please fill in the form on this page to learn more.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-760.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd760txt.htm) Retrieved 12 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS John W. Thomason (DD-760).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/760.htm) Retrieved 12 February 2011.

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