The USS Mansfield (DD-728) remained on the Navy list for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Sergeant Duncan Mansfield who served with the Marine Corps during the First Barbary War. Mansfield was built to the specifications of the Allen M. Sumner class of destroyers.
Mansfield was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in August 1943, launched in January 1944, and commissioned in April with Commander Robert E. Brady, Jr., in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Mansfield was 376 feet, six inches long and armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Mansfield sailed to San Diego in September 1944 and then to Pearl Harbor for training exercises. In the Philippines, Mansfield served as a picket vessel during the Luzon strikes and screened aircraft carriers during key raids in the area through December. Mansfield then sailed with the fleet from Hong Kong to Saigon while battling enemy forces, and screened carriers during the strikes on Tokyo, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
Mansfield operated as a carrier screen off Japan from March to April 1945, and then served off the coast after the Japanese surrender in August. The destroyer returned to the west coast after the formal surrender ceremony in September, and thereafter alternated between reservist training and annual cruises to the western Pacific.
Mansfield began gunfire support and escort duties at the start of the Korean War in 1950. During a search operation for a downed aircraft, she struck a mine and was repaired at Bremerton, Washington. Mansfield then rejoined the U.N. Fleet off South Korea in the latter part of 1951, before resuming west coast duty and western Pacific deployments. An FRAM overhaul in 1960 was followed by 1st Fleet exercises and escort service with the 7th Fleet Fast Carrier Attack Force.
Mansfield operated off of Vietnam in 1965 and 1966 and then served as an alternate recovery ship for Gemini XI in September 1966. The destroyer then returned to Vietnam and remained there from 1967 into 1969. Decommissioned in February 1971, Mansfield was struck from the Navy list in February 1974 and transferred to Argentina where she was broken up for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Mansfield (DD-728)
The engine and boiler compartments aboard Mansfield installed asbestos as insulation for pipes and steam boilers, and to fireproof components of the ship's engines and power plant. Asbestos-containing material made its way into practically every other area of the ship as well, because it was also used to wrap the ship's steam pipes.
Damaged and worn asbestos products posed the greatest risk to Navy sailors. When asbestos materials are damaged, they become friable. Such products can shed individual asbestos fibers, forming clouds of dangerous asbestos dust. Many years after it is inhaled, asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other serious diseases. The mine damage to Mansfield and her later overhaul likely increased the amount of friable asbestos on board.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-728.
NavSource Naval History. USS Mansfield (DD-728).