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USS Macomb (DD-458)

The USS Macomb (DD-458) served in the U.S. Navy for over a decade in the mid-20th century. She was named for cousins Commodore William H. Macomb and Rear Admiral David B. Macomb who both served in the Civil War. Macomb was commissioned as a Gleaves-class vessel.

Construction

Macomb was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in September 1940, launched in September 1941, and commissioned in January 1942 with Lieutenant Commander W.K. Duvall in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Macomb was 348 feet, four inches long and armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six one-half inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Macomb began her service as a convoy escort to areas such as the northern coast of South America, to Africa, and north to Newfoundland. In July 1942, Macomb served on an escort mission to Scotland, and operated between Scotland and Iceland until September. Macomb conducted anti-submarine patrols in the Caribbean in October, and then sailed for Africa to guard aircraft carriers for the Casablanca invasion. Following this deployment, Macomb was overhauled at Boston and continued escort duty off the east coast and in the Caribbean.

Macomb was assigned to service out of Newfoundland and patrolled the North Atlantic out to Iceland and England, and then returned to the east coast until mid-1944. In April, Macomb was deployed to the Mediterranean for submarine duty off Algeria, and then participated in the invasion of southern France in August. Macomb sailed for the Pacific in March 1945 and was part of the first task group to arrive at Okinawa, where she was extensively damaged during Japanese kamikaze attacks.

Macomb was repaired at Saipan and, when the war ended, joined the 3rd fleet and reported to Tokyo Bay to witness the formal surrender in August. Upon departure, Macomb conducted minesweeping operations off Japan, and then reported for duty with the Atlantic Fleet in December. Macomb was based at Charleston, South Carolina, beginning in June 1948, and was occasionally deployed for patrol and fleet exercise duty, and also served three tours with the 6th fleet in the Mediterranean in 1949.

In July 1954, Macomb was put in reserve and decommissioned in October before being transferred to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force as Hatakaze. She was returned to America in 1969 and then sold for scrap to Taiwan in August 1970.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Macomb (DD-458)

The United States Navy used asbestos aboard its ships until the late 1970s. Macomb’s engine and power sections relied on asbestos insulation and fireproofing. The material also wrapped steam pipes running the full length of the vessel. Nearly every sailor on this ship was exposed to asbestos, with engineers, boilermen, and machinists generally having the highest total exposure.

Asbestos is very dangerous. Once inhaled or ingested, the mineral can trigger mesothelioma by destroying a membrane called the mesothelium. Many Navy sailors have developed this difficult cancer. For many, shipboard exposure was the single greatest risk factor for their disease. Fortunately, most sailors harmed by asbestos can seek legal relief from the companies that made the products that caused their injury.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-458.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd458txt.htm

NavSource Naval History, USS Macomb (DD-458).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/458.htm

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