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USS Kimberly (DD-521)

The USS Kimberly (DD-521) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two decades in the middle of the 20th century, including a four-year period of inactivity between commissions. She was named for Lewis A. Kimberly, who served with the U.S. Navy around the turn of the 20th century. Kimberly was built as a Fletcher-class ship.

Construction

Kimberly was laid down in Staten Island, New York by Bethlehem Steel in July 1942. She was launched in February 1943 and commissioned in May 1943, with Commander H.W. Smith at the helm. Kimberly carried a crew of 273 and had a cruising speed of 38 knots. She was armed with five five-inch anti-aircraft guns, four one and one-tenth-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Kimberly spent her initial months at sea training at Pearl Harbor and was soon sent to Micronesia to participate in the Gilbert Islands campaign. In January 1944, she steamed to the Aleutian Islands to assist in offensive sweeps and the bombardment of the Kuriles. She then joined the rest of her fleet for the invasion of the Philippines. There, she engaged with Japanese kamikaze planes in December, splashing one and helping to down two others.

In January, Kimberly departed Leyte for the Lingayen Gulf. There, she splashed two more planes and bombarded enemy supply and railroad lines. February saw Kimberly preparing for the Okinawa campaign, and in late March she suffered a hit from an enemy plane. Four men were killed and another 57 wounded, and Kimberly left the arena for repairs.

As Kimberly was preparing for re-entry into the fight, Japan surrendered. Kimberly was part of the fleet that soon entered Tokyo Bay before she returned to the US, where she was decommissioned and placed on reserve.

As tensions mounted in South Korea, Kimberly was recommissioned in 1951 and was immediately sent to the Pacific. In June, she provided fire support off the western coast of Korea and acted as a plane guard. In September, she patrolled off Formosa before returning to the US. Kimberly spent two years operating along the Atlantic coast before being decommissioned in 1954.

She was loaned to Taiwan in 1967 and, nearly four decades later, was finally sunk as a target.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Kimberly (DD-521)

Whether a member of the crew was stationed in the engineering areas or elsewhere, nearly everyone on board the USS Kimberly was potentially exposed to asbestos. If a crewman was primarily employed in repair and maintenance work, his level of exposure was likely to be greater than for those in other occupations. However, engineering pipes ran everywhere throughout the ship and were cloaked in insulation made of asbestos. Often, the insulation would need to be replaced. In tearing down old installation loose asbestos fibers would enter the air and anyone in the surrounding area could breathe them in.

When ingested, asbestos becomes lodged in the lungs and may eventually cause the development of mesothelioma. Because damaged asbestos creates a fine dust which is easily breathed in, working on repairs after battle damage resulted in a significantly greater exposure threat for those involved. As it has been established that the inhalation of asbestos can result in serious illness and possible death, legal approaches may be available to those who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related ailments.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-521. (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd521txt.htm) Retrieved 22 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS Kimberly (DD-521).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/521.htm) Retrieved 22 January 2011.

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