The USS Mayo (DD-422) served in the U.S. Navy for six years during the first half of the 20th century. She was named for Henry Thomas Mayo, who served with the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American War. Mayo was built as a Benson-class ship.
Mayo was laid down in Quincy, Pennsylvania at Bethlehem Steel in May 1938. She was launched in March 1940 and commissioned in September 1940, with Lieutenant C. D. Emory at the helm. Mayo carried a crew of 208 and had a cruising speed of 35 knots. She was armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six half-inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following an initial shakedown cruise, Mayo joined President Roosevelt’s Neutrality Patrol, escorting marines to Iceland for protective custody duty. In August 1941, Mayo served as a guard patrolling off the coast of Newfoundland as President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill agreed to the Atlantic Charter.
When the U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941, Mayo’s convoy assignment expanded, as she assisted with the movement of troops out of New York. She constantly faced poor weather and the threat of U-boats. In November 1942, Mayo was posted to North Africa to protect reinforcement troops at Casablanca.
In August 1943, Mayo joined the Mediterranean fleet to support an invasion at Salerno, Italy. In January 1944, she supported the assault on the beaches at Anzio. It was on January 24 that Mayo suffered her first injury: a suicide explosion nearly broke the ship in two, killing seven men and wounding 23 more. She was towed to Naples for a temporary fix before returning to the U.S. for proper repairs at the New York Navy Yard.
Mayo’s further voyages included Trinidad and various locations in Europe before joining the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in May 1945. There, she ran escort missions to Okinawa and escorted troops to and from Honshu and the Philippines. She returned to the U.S. in December 1945 and was decommissioned in March 1946, after receiving two battle stars for World War II service. She was placed on reserve at Orange, Texas until 1969. She was stricken from the Navy list in 1972 and later broken up and sold for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Mayo (DD-422)
Essentially every compartment on board Mayo had exposure to asbestos. The material was used to insulate steam pipes and in many other applications on board. The highest concentration of asbestos-containing materials could be found in the engineering compartments and the boiler room. Asbestos was deployed as an insulating and fireproofing material for boilers, pumps, and engines. Crewmembers that were primarily employed in engineering suffered greater than average exposure.
It has been established that inhaling asbestos fibers can result in life-threatening diseases. The most serious asbestos risk is mesothelioma, a cancer affecting a thin membrane that surrounds many internal organs. Mesothelioma can take decades to develop and generally has a very poor prognosis once diagnosed. Veterans of the Mayo that were harmed by asbestos have rights. An asbestos lawyer can examine your case and explain your legal options.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-422.
NavSource Naval History, USS Mayo (DD-422).