The USS McCord (DD-534) served in the U.S. Navy for about three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Commander Frank C. McCord, a pioneer in naval aviation. McCord was designed as a Fletcher-class vessel.
McCord was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in March 1942, launched in January 1943, and commissioned in August with Commander W.T. Kenny in command. Carrying a crew of 273, McCord was 376 feet, five inches long and was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
McCord left San Diego in November 1943 and joined the Pacific Fleet for duty in the Marshall Islands. In January 1944, McCord served as a troop transport screen and provided fire support during Operation Flintlock off Kwajalein, and screened the bombardment group during Operation Catchpole at Eniwetok Atoll. McCord aided in the troop landings at Emirau Island in the Bismark Archipelago in March, and also conducted anti-submarine patrols at Bougainville and New Georgia.
In September, McCord participated in the Palau Islands offensive and joined the 7th Fleet for assignment in the Philippines. During this deployment, McCord endured air attacks south of Samar and defended Allied forces and shipping from enemy forces off Leyte in November. McCord operated during offensives at Mindoro in December, and then Formosa in January 1945, striking with Task Force 38 at enemy targets in Indochina, the Philippines, and Okinawa.
McCord also took part in the February assault on Tokyo as well as Iwo Jima, and screened Task Group 58.4 during the April assault on Okinawa. Following a return to Leyte Gulf, McCord returned to the United States for overhaul and was out of commission from January 1947 to August 1951 at San Diego. When reactivated, McCord was initially assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.
In January 1953, McCord departed for the Pacific and arrived off Korea in February, served combat in the Yellow Sea until mid-March, and then participated in shore bombardment off Korea’s east coast. She was then assigned to fleet exercises off Japan, and arrived at Norfolk, Virginia in August for service off the southeast United States and Caribbean. McCord was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in June 1954, struck from the Navy list in October 1972, and sold for scrap in January 1974.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McCord (DD-534)
No matter what a crewman’s duty station aboard McCord, he was likely exposed to asbestos products. Sailors serving in the engineering section, working as machinists, or fighting fires often had the most intense and sustained exposure. Dangerous quantities of asbestos dust were also found any place where work was performed on ships, such as dockyards.
Asbestos insulation that was damaged by enemy action, by weather, or simply from long service was particularly dangerous because it became friable, meaning the fibers were separated from the asbestos-containing material. McCord saw frequent combat action during her World War II service, meaning that her crew likely had a greater asbestos risk than they might have during times of peace. The more often a sailor encountered asbestos, the greater his chances of developing mesothelioma. Navy veterans harmed by asbestos exposure during their service often have the right to compensation.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-534.
NavSource Naval History, USS McCord (DD-534).