The USS Litchfield (DD-336) served in the US Navy for two and a half decades in the early part of the 20th century. She was named for John R. Litchfield who served in World War I and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for his bravery. Litchfield was built as a Clemson-class destroyer.
Litchfield was laid down by Mare Island Navy Yard in January 1919, launched in August, and commissioned in May 1920 with Lieutenant Commander J.F. McClain in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Litchfield was 314 feet, five inches long, with a beam of 31 feet, eight inches and draught of nine feet, 10 inches. Litchfield was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Litchfield began her service on the west coast, and then arrived at Charleston, South Carolina at the end of 1921. She joined Division 39 at Newport, Rhode Island and was deployed to the Mediterranean in June 1922. Litchfield was assigned to humanitarian duty during a war between Germany and Greece, and helped evacuate Greek and Armenian refugees following a fire in Smyrna, Turkey in September 1922.
Litchfield was overhauled at the New York Navy Yard in October 1923 and then was deployed with Destroyer Squadron 12 to San Diego in May 1924. She conducted routine exercises with the Battle Fleet in October, participated in a training cruise to Australia and New Zealand in 1925, and then visited Nicaragua during political tensions in 1927.
Litchfield was moved to a permanent station at Pearl Harbor in April 1937, and became the flagship of Submarine Squadron 4, Submarine Force, Pearl Harbor in May. She operated with submarines throughout 1941, and was out of base with United States submarine Thresher during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, Litchfield escorted United States submarines in and out of port, and also conducted anti-submarine patrols off of Pearl Harbor.
Following overhaul at Bremerton, Washington in November 1943, Litchfield returned to Pearl Harbor in January 1944 and escorted convoys to Midway and Eniwetok islands. During this deployment, Litchfield rescued crews of downed patrol planes and participated in submarine training. In March 1945, Litchfield was deployed on an escort mission to Guam and then re-designated miscellaneous auxiliary vessel AG-95. Litchfield was decommissioned in November 1945 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and sold for scrap in March 1946.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Litchfield (DD-336)
Installing asbestos-containing materials in the design of oceangoing ships was required by law in the US in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea on a luxury liner killed 137 people. Litchfield, like most Navy ships of the time, utilized asbestos heavily, particularly in boilers and engine spaces, and for insulation in all parts of the vessel. Once asbestos gets into the body, microscopic fibers lodge in the mesothelial layer, a narrow body of cells that surrounds and protects the body's internal organs, and in time this infiltration can cause malignant mesothelioma.
Presently there is no mesothelioma cure; however, dedicated doctors such as Dr. David Sugarbaker are constantly working to create viable treatment modalities. Patients who have contracted mesothelioma disease have legal rights and a good mesothelioma lawyer can counsel them on what those are.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-336.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd336txt.htm Retrieved 6 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History, USS Litchfield (DD-336).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/336.htm Retrieved 6 January 2011.