The USS Lardner was a naval destroyer that served in the U.S. Navy primarily during the Second World War. She was named in honor of Rear Admiral James L. Lardner (1802-1881).
Lardner (DD-487) was laid down on September 15, 1941, by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock in Kearney, New Jersey. She received her official commission on May 13 of 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Commander William M. Sweetner.
Eventually earning 10 battle stars for service in World War II, Lardner began her career in the South Pacific. She arrived in Tongatabu, the main island of Tonga, in September and began undertaking escort and screening duties. Destinations included Noumea, Espiritu Santo, and Guadalcanal, where Lardner bombarded the enemy in support of troop landings.
On September 15, Lardner was screening for Task Force 18 en route to Espiritu Santo when aircraft carrier Wasp (CV-7) was torpedoed and sank. Lardner immediately launched an attack on the enemy and picked up 322 Wasp survivors, conveying them safely to Espiritu Santo the next day.
Lardner spent most of 1943 operating in the waters around the Solomon Islands, escorting transports, screening convoys, and engaging with the enemy in multiple capacities. During the summer of 1944, Lardner was kept busy by assisting in the occupation of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. She also escorted aircraft carriers during the first raid on the Bonin Islands; in addition, she participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
After a brief overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, Lardner resumed escort duties in November. On December 27, while on enemy patrol near Pelelieu and Angaur, she rescued five downed aircrew. Through the spring of 1945, Lardner stayed in that area, patrolling and providing escort as needed. In July, she was assigned to logistics support directly off the coast of Japan.
Upon the hostilities, Lardner performed her final escort duties in August of 1945. She escorted the crippled vessel Borie (DD-704) to Okinawa, as well as escorting Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz’ flagship South Dakota (BB-57) to Tokyo Bay. Along with other miscellaneous duties, Lardner next assisted in transporting prisoners of war from Honshu. She came home in December, reaching New York on December 7, 1945. Upon her decommissioning in May, Lardner joined the Atlantic Fleet Reserve and in June, she was transferred to the Turkish Navy as the newly christened Gemlik (D-347).
Asbestos Risk on the USS Lardner (DD-487)
Crew members maintaining engineering equipment aboard the Lardner were exposed to high levels of asbestos, as were crewmen serving in damage control parties. Any time asbestos containing material is handled, friable asbestos fibers can be torn from the surrounding material where they can be inhaled or ingested. Sailors who worked regularly with or near asbestos products over a long period can suffer related illnesses much later in life, including mesothelioma.
Because exposure to asbestos is currently the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma, there are legal options for those who have contracted this condition. Veterans of the USS Lardner should contact a qualified mesothelioma attorney if they have suffered ill health as a result of their service.Sources
“Lardner II.” Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.