The USS McKean (DD-784) served in the U.S. Navy for over three and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Admiral William Wister McKean who served in the American Civil War. McKean was commissioned as a Gearing-class vessel.
McKean was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in September 1944, launched in March 1945, and commissioned in June with Commander William D. Kelly in command. 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, McKean carried a crew of 336.
McKean served in the Far East for three months, beginning in September 1945, to support the occupation of Japan, and remained on alert against communist aggression. When the Korean War started, McKean joined the 7th Fleet and served during the Inchon invasion, patrolled the Chinnampo River, and conducted patrols of the Straits of Taiwan. Shore bombardment and blockade duty followed, and McKean returned to Long Beach, California in April 1951.
McKean remained at Long Beach as a training ship, and was reclassified DDR-784 and converted to a radar picket destroyer in 1952. The destroyer participated in fleet exercises off Japan in June 1953 and, during her western Pacific deployment in 1956, sailed to Australia and then served in the Straits of Taiwan to protect Nationalist China from communist invasion.
After two years of service at Long Beach, McKean operated in the Philippines and on the Taiwan Patrol from January 1962 until July, and was deployed again in May 1963 for service from the Aleutians to Japan and the Philippines. McKean received an FRAM I conversion in 1964, reclassified DD-784 in December 1963, and alternated between west coast and Asian duty until hostilities increased at Vietnam in August. The destroyer conducted shore bombardments and gunfire support until December 1965.
McKean also served at the Gulf of Tonkin from December 1966 to January 1967 and again in February and March. The destroyer sailed for the United States in late-May, arrived at Long Beach in June, and was overhauled at Mare Island. McKean was struck from the Navy list in October 1981 and transferred to Turkey in 1982 to be broken up for scrap and spare parts.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McKean (DD-784)
Because of its versatility, asbestos was found in nearly every compartment and corridor of McKean. It was used in seals, paints, and even glues. Asbestos insulation was installed in the boiler rooms and engine compartments, and wrapped around steam pipes running throughout the vessel. Most sailors aboard the McKean would have encountered asbestos during their service.
The long service history of McKean and her use as a training vessel increases her exposure profile. While regular contact with asbestos materials is believed to be the most dangerous, any exposure might lead to serious health complications later in life, including mesothelioma cancer. Sailors that served or trained aboard McKean and later became ill with an asbestos-related disease have legal rights. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a case, so contact a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-784.
NavSource Naval History. USS McKean (DD-784).