The USS McGowan (DD-678) served with the U.S. Navy for over a decade and a half in the mid-20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral Samuel McGowan who served during World War I. McGowan was commissioned as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
McGowan was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in June 1943, launched in November, and commissioned in December with Commander James B. Weller in command. Carrying a crew of 273, McGowan was armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
McGowan was deployed for duty in the Mariana Islands and began her service at Kwajalein Atoll in May 1944 before moving on to Saipan to protect ships bombarding the enemy. The destroyer provided fire support during the invasion at Saipan, screened transport vessels to Guam, and also supported the operation at Tinian. In July, McGowan served with troop transport ships for the assault on the Palaus, where she conducted anti-submarine duty.
Deployed to Manus prior to the Leyte operation, McGowan served fighter-director duty during the troop landings in the Philippines, and screened convoys in the area until the Mindoro landings in December. She also served in the Lingayen Gulf while fighting off kamikaze planes during the offensive. McGowan departed the Philippines in February 1945 and joined the aircraft carriers for strikes on Honshu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and then Hokkaido and the Kuriles.
McGowan was overhauled on the west coast and returned to Japan after the war ended. Assigned to occupation duty from August until October, McGowan was decommissioned with San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve from April 1946 until July 1951. The destroyer joined the Atlantic Fleet and then returned to the Pacific in October for duty off Okinawa and Korea. McGowan returned to the east coast in April 1953 and was deployed to the Mediterranean on several occasions, first during unrest in the Suez Canal Zone and another time during a period of instability in Lebanon. She was transferred to Spain in November 1960 as Jorge Juan, struck from the U.S. Navy list in October 1972, and struck from the Spanish Navy list and scrapped in November 1988.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McGowan (DD-678)
Virtually everyone in McGowan’s crew was exposed to asbestos, no matter what his assigned duties were. Ships of this era used asbestos products from bow to stern. Asbestos insulation and fireproofing was used most heavily in engineering spaces, but steam pipes wrapped in asbestos ran through many other compartments. The mineral was also mixed into paints and cement, molded into gaskets, and woven into ropes.
Exposure to asbestos on Navy vessels is one of the highest risk factors for developing mesothelioma. Because the link between naval service and asbestos disease is very well established, veterans suffering from mesothelioma often have legal options available to them. If you were harmed by the asbestos on McGowan, please complete the form on this page. We’ll send you a free mesothelioma information kit that helps explain the disease and your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-678.
NavSource Naval History. USS McGowan (DD-678)