The USS Johnston (DD-821) served in the U.S. Navy for three and a half decades in the mid-to-late-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant John Vincent Johnston who served in the American Civil War. Johnston was a member of the Gearing class of naval destroyers.
Johnston was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in June 1945, launched in October, and commissioned in August 1946 with Commander Elmer C. Long in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Johnston was 390 feet, six inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Johnston began duty with the Atlantic Fleet, with Newport, Rhode Island as her home port, in May 1947. In February 1948, Johnston visited various ports in Northern Europe until arriving back at Newport in June, and then remained off the Atlantic coast until August 1949. Johnston then made her first trip to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet and operated in the Adriatic Sea.
Johnston returned home in January 1950 and operated from Canada to the Caribbean, before she participated in midshipman training off Northern Europe in June and July 1951. Another Mediterranean deployment followed from September 1951 to February 1952. In 1953, Johnston took part in NATO operations in the North Atlantic, and then aided flood victims in the Netherlands.
Johnston returned from the Mediterranean in early-1954 and remained off the United States Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean until November 1955. Operating in the Middle East during the Suez Crisis in 1956, Johnston was then deployed to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean several more times until she underwent an FRAM I overhaul at Boston in 1962. Johnston was assigned to service in the Caribbean in December and rescued a sinking Honduran freighter in 1963.
Johnston fired two underwater missiles off Florida in March, conducted anti-submarine tactical duties, and then sailed for the Black Sea in August. Following coastal operations off Charleston, South Carolina in 1964, Johnston served with NATO forces in the Mediterranean in 1965 and then returned to Charleston in June. Johnston performed as a sonar school training ship at Key West in 1966. The destroyer resumed east coast operations and Mediterranean deployments and was decommissioned in February 1981. Transferred to Taiwan as Chen Yang, the former Johnston was decommissioned there in December 2003.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Johnston (DD-821)
In the early twentieth century asbestos was discovered to be a very effective insulating material and, as a result, turned out to be an ideal material for use in the construction of navy ships like the USS Johnston. Asbestos also had a wide range of uses and could therefore be found in many products that were made for use in high temp environments. It could be found in many places on a ship but was found in especially high concentrations in rooms that contained heavy equipment like engines, boilers and pumps. It was also wrapped around the steam pipes that ran throughout the ship.
Sailors whose occupations (i.e. mechanics, plumbers and boiler tenders)brought them into more regular contact with asbestos had an increased chance of developing asbestos-related conditions, such as malignant mesothelioma. Because asbestos is actually a mineral, when it is damaged the tiny fibers can separate from the main body and enter the air, where they can easily be swallowed or breathed in. Inhaled asbestos fibers are strongly linked to the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos-induced conditions.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-821.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd821txt.htm) Retrieved 19 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. Johnston (DD-821).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/821.htm) Retrieved 19 February 2011.