The USS Keppler (DD-765) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Reinhardt John Keppler, a U.S. Navy officer killed during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Keppler was built as a Gearing-class destroyer.
Keppler was laid down in San Francisco, California by Bethlehem Steel in April 1944. She was launched in June 1946 and commissioned in May 1947, with Commander P.M. Cauiglio at the helm. Keppler carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.8 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.
Keppler began her service in the Pacific Ocean during the fall of 1947. She returned to the U.S. in May 1948 and was soon converted into an anti-submarine destroyer and reassigned to the Atlantic. There, she served briefly in the Mediterranean before being redirected to the Far East as a response to growing Communist aggression in Korea.
Keppler arrived in Korea in August 1950. Her duties included patrolling the Formosa Strait and screening task groups for carrier strikes. After a brief stop in Japan, she returned to the U.S. in March 1951 for an overhaul.
In 1952, Keppler began an extended period of assorted peacetime and general preparatory duties. She participated in NATO exercises and completed goodwill voyages through 1957, when she was part of the display of force sent to the Red Sea during the dispute between the Syrian Army and Jordan.
The remainder of the 1950s was spent completing NATO exercises, and 1961 brought a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) upgrade. The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted shortly thereafter, and Keppler was part of the blockade. After additional NATO exercises and general training, she was dispatched to the Vietnam region in 1966. There, Keppler served plane guard duty in the Gulf of Tonkin, supported the South Vietnamese troops, and assisted in sinking Communist ships posing as fishing vessels.
Keppler later returned to the U.S. for various peacetime and training duties, and she was eventually decommissioned in 1972. The ship was then transferred to Turkey and renamed Tinaztepe. She was broken up and sold for scrap in 1982.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Keppler (DD-765)
Almost every sailor aboard the USS Keppler could have been exposed to asbestos at some point while they were stationed on the ship. Some jobs posed a higher risk for exposure, and boilermen, engineers, mechanics, and damage control workers were generally most at risk. During refits and maintenance, parts of Keppler that were often heavily contaminated by asbestos materials had to be replaced and repaired. Sailors and other workers assigned to repair duties were exposed to asbestos at a much higher rate than sailors in other occupations.
In addition, asbestos exposure was also a high risk at the numerous shipyards across the country. The family members of these workers could have been victims of secondhand asbestos exposure because the toxic asbestos dust would frequently come home on work clothing. The more often a person comes into contact with asbestos materials, and the higher the level of exposure, the greater the odds of being diagnosed with mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-765.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd765txt.htm) Retrieved 13 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Keppler (DD-765).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/765.htm) Retrieved 13 February 2011.