The USS Knight (DD-633) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately five years during the first half of the 20th century. She was named for Austin Melvin Knight, who served with the U.S. Navy around the turn of the 20th century. Knight was built as a Gleaves-class ship.
Knight was laid down in Boston, Massachusetts at the Boston Navy Yard in March 1941. She was launched in September 1941 and commissioned in June 1942, with Lieutenant Commander Richard B. Levin at the helm. Knight carried a crew of 208 and had a cruising speed of 35 knots. She was armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six half-inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Knight began her military service as a participant in the invasion of North Africa in the fall of 1942, where she provided anti-submarine patrols off the coast of Morocco. In June 1943, Knight escorted her first convoy bound for the European portion of the Mediterranean. Upon arrival, she joined the fleet preparing for the invasion of Sicily. During the engagement, she screened transports, attacked enemy shore batteries, and downed at least one enemy plane.
During the invasion of Italy in September, Knight supported the capture of German and Italian troops, assisted in the capture of Capri, and guarded transports in the Gulf of Salerno. She returned to the U.S. in October.
Through the end of 1943 and the first months of 1944, Knight escorted five convoy runs from New York to various locations in the United Kingdom. She then returned to the Mediterranean for several months, patrolling for submarines off Italy and Gibraltar.
Convoy duty throughout the Atlantic filled the ship’s time until June 1945, when Knight returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for conversion to a high-speed minesweeper and reclassification as DMS-40. After a period of re-training, Knight was sent to the Pacific theater. She arrived at Okinawa in September, where she swept for mines in the Yellow Sea.
Knight returned to the U.S. in 1946 and was decommissioned in 1947. In 1955, she was reclassified as DD-633 and placed on reserve. Knight was eventually struck from the Navy list in 1966. She was sunk as a target off the coast of California in 1967.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Knight (DD-633)
Significant changes in the industrial economy in the 1800s resulted in the proliferation of boilers, steam engines, and other heavy equipment that demanded the use of asbestos products. Civilian and naval craft like the USS Knight utilized asbestos as insulation for their boilers and heavy equipment.
If a member of the ship's crew was usually assigned to engineering or mechanical work, the level of his/her exposure was probably higher than average. In the 1970’s, knowledge about the hazards of asbestos and its causal ties to mesothelioma was finally made public. Unfortunately countless numbers of unsuspecting military veterans, trades people and civilians were exposed to large quantities of airborne asbestos while on the job without wearing appropriate safety gear. Family members of those affected were also potentially exposed to the harmful substance via secondhand exposure from clothing.
The more often a person comes into contact with asbestos dust, the greater the chances of developing mesothelioma. Because the disease normally takes up to years and sometimes decades before symptoms begin to appear, many who served on navy ships in the latter part of the 20th century are still being diagnosed with the disease today.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-633.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd633txt.htm) Retrieved 29 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Knight (DD-633).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/633.htm) Retrieved 29 January 2011.