The USS Massey (DD-778) remained on the Navy list for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Lance E. Massey who was killed in action during the Battle of Midway during the Second World War. Massey was laid down as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer.
Massey was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in January 1944, launched in August, and commissioned in November with Commander Charles W. Aldrich in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Massey was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Massey sailed from Bremerton, Washington in February 1945 and then screened aircraft carriers to Tulagi, and protected the carriers during the Okinawa assault. Remaining in the area through April, Massey began radar picket duty off Okinawa in May and also shot down nine kamikaze planes. The destroyer returned there in July and began an anti-shipping sweep in the East China Sea, and then conducted air-sea rescue operations off Okinawa after the war ended. Massey also conducted courier duties between Wakayama and Yokosuka.
Massey arrived at San Diego in December, and then joined the Atlantic Fleet. Before the Korean War began in 1950, Massey conducted summer training cruises and was deployed twice to the Mediterranean. In October 1950, Massey began minesweeping operations off Korea, where she conducted patrols and bombarded enemy troops and transportation infrastructure. The destroyer returned to Norfolk, Virginia in July 1951 and then operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, where she spent six months in 1953.
Massey operated for the next six years in the Atlantic, and then underwent an FRAM upgrade at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard beginning in December 1959. She was further modernized at Boston in 1963, and returned to the Pacific in 1966. Massey began service off Vietnam in February, sailed back to Boston in September, and served in the Mediterranean in 1967 during Middle East tensions. Following a final Mediterranean cruise in 1968, Massey was decommissioned in 1969, struck from the Navy list in 1973, and sold for scrap to the Union Minerals & Alloy Corporation in November 1974.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Massey (DD-778)
The engine and power areas aboard Massey utilized asbestos extensively as insulation for steam pipes, to protect ship's boilers, and to insulate parts of the ship's motors and steam turbines. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were found in most other compartments as well, as the mineral was frequently added to paints and cements to increase their resistance to fire.
Crewmembers that worked in the engineering compartment, as machinists, or in damage control parties suffered the highest frequency and intensity asbestos exposure. Overhauls like the FRAM upgrade also posed a significant asbestos hazard to the workers performing that task. Increased exposure leads to a greater risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-778.
NavSource Naval History. USS Massey (DD-778).