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USS Kalk (DD-611)

The USS Kalk (DD-611) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in the early- to mid-1940s and remained on the Navy list until the late 1960s. She was named for Lieutenant Stanton Frederick Kalk who served in World War II. Kalk was built as a Benson-class ship.

Construction

Kalk was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in June 1941, launched in July 1942, and commissioned in October with Lieutenant Commander C.T. Singleton, Jr., in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Kalk was 348 feet, four inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six one-half inch machine guns, and four five-inch anti-aircraft guns. Kalk was driven by Bethlehem turbines and had a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 12 knots.

Naval History

Kalk was assigned to patrol and escort service in the Aleutian Islands from January to March 1943, during which she rescued 185 survivors of storm-stricken SS Arthur Middleton and Worden. After returning to San Francisco, Kalk commenced convoy escort duty out of New York to such destinations as Algeria and Casablanca. Kalk conducted three escort missions between the United States and North Africa, before being deployed to the Pacific in January 1944.

Kalk operated at New Guinea from January to June on patrol and escort duty, and also participated in the bombardments of Manus, the Rambutye Islands, and the Admiralty Islands during this time. In May, Kalk operated during the invasion of Biak Island, and while on patrol there in June was struck by an aircraft bomb, which caused 70 casualties on board. She was temporarily repaired at Hollandia and was overhauled at Mare Island Navy Yard before returning to service in November.

Kalk protected logistics forces and conducted patrols off Luzon, Philippines in December. She also operated with Task Force 58 at Iwo Jima in February 1945 and with the 6th Fleet in preparation for the Okinawa invasion in April. Kalk then served with the 5th and 3rd Fleets off the Ryukyus and screened supply ships between Ulithi and Okinawa, continuing screening duties until the war ended in August. Kalk returned to the United States in November and was decommissioned in May 1946, struck from the Navy list in June 1968, and sunk off St. Augustine, Florida in March 1969.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Kalk (DD-611)

Warships, like the USS Kalk, employ many pieces of equipment which generate high amounts of thermal heat, such as engines and boilers. For decades, asbestos was viewed as the perfect substance for insulating this heavy machinery.

Asbestos insulation was employed in many other applications ship-wide, as well. As a result, most of the crew on board may have been exposed to asbestos to some degree during their service. Certain jobs risked a greater chance of asbestos exposure, however, particularly those involving the repair and maintenance of equipment in the engine, boiler and pump rooms. These individuals were considerably more likely to consistently inhale or ingest asbestos fibers in more concentrated quantities over time.

Increased exposure to asbestos fiber, and particularly friable asbestos, amplifies a person's risk of being afflicted with a variety of serious asbestos related illnesses. After it is inhaled or ingested, asbestos can damage the thin membrane known as the mesothelium and ultimately lead to the development of mesothelioma.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-611.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd611txt.htm) Retrieved 27 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Kalk (DD-611).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/611.htm) Retrieved 27 January 2011.

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