The USS McCook (DD-496) was a Gleaves class destroyer in the U.S. Navy during World War II and a minesweeper following the war. She was the second ship named for Commander Roderick S. McCook (1939-1886), an officer in the Union Navy during the American Civil War.
Built in Seattle, WA, by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation, McCook was launched in April 1942, and commissioned in March 1943, under the command of Lt. Commander S. G. Anderson.
McCook devoted the first 10 months of her service escorting convoys through the Atlantic, training destroyer crews, and standing watch over the aircraft carrier Wasp during her shakedown. After training in antisubmarine and antiaircraft warfare, McCook joined Task Group 27.8 and participated in amphibious landing exercises. Caught in an air raid in May 1944, McCook sustained damage but thanks to efficient repairs from the destroyer tender Melville, McCook played an important role in the invasions.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, McCook commenced bombardment of the Pointe du Hoc-Vierville-sur-Mer and by day’s end, in addition to her assigned targets, she had obliterated 10 pillboxes, 13 machine gun nests, 3 shore guns, 8 gun emplacements, and 10 stone houses sheltering enemy machine guns and snipers.
In August, McCook joined with forces preparing for Operation Dragoon for the invasion of southern France, and took a position south of Toulon where she provided gunfire support while protecting convoys bringing reinforcements.
McCook resumed escort duties to transatlantic convoys until May 1945, at which time she was converted to a destroyer-minesweeper and reclassified DMS-36 for postwar activities.
McCook eliminated 77 of 500 mines in the Yellow Sea before sailing to Sasebo, Japan, for duty in November 1945. Damaged in a typhoon, McCook was repaired at Sasebo before she proceeded to the Inland Sea to ensure the channels were clear of mines. Mission accomplished, McCook returned to San Francisco March 1946.
McCook spent 2 years operating out of San Diego with the Underwater Training Unit and destroyer squadron exercises. Decommissioned May 1949, she joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet in San Diego. In July 1955, she was reclassified DD-496. McCook was stricken from the register in January 1972, and sold for scrap August 1973. McCook received three battle stars for World War II service.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McCook (DD-496)
Because asbestos materials were extremely fire resistant, the Navy used them in many applications, from insulation in hot engineering spaces to fireproofing for the ship’s mess. The versatile mineral was found in almost every area aboard McCook.
Crewmen working in the engine room, maintaining heavy machinery, dealing with fire, or repairing damage were considerably more likely to be exposed to asbestos-containing materials. The more frequently a person encounters asbestos, the greater his odds of developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer with a poor life expectancy for its victims.
The battle damage sustained by McCook during World War II operations may have increased the risk to her crew. When asbestos materials are damaged, they often become friable. Such products can easily release thousands of nearly invisible asbestos fibers into the air. As the dangers of asbestos exposure were not well understood at the time, sailors doing damage control on McCook likely had inadequate protection from the mineral.
As asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, and it is well established that the U.S. Navy used asbestos materials on the ships of this era, veterans of the McCook are likely to have legal recourse for asbestos injuries. If you or a loved one served on this vessel and were later diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact an attorney to protect your legal rights.Sources
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships