The USS Melvin (DD-680) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for over a decade in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant John T. Melvin who served aboard patrol ship Alcedo, the first American war vessel to be sunk in World War I. Melvin was built as a Fletcher-class naval vessel.
Melvin was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in July 1943, launched in October, and commissioned in November with Commander Warner R. Edsall in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Melvin was 376 feet, five inches in length and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns.
Melvin arrived at Pearl Harbor in March 1944 and was deployed to the Marshall Islands as an anti-submarine patrol, and then operated at various enemy-held atolls in the islands until May. In June, Melvin sank submarine RO-36 at Saipan and continued serving there with counter-fire, anti-submarine duties, and support for Marines. The destroyer also participated in the bombardment of Tinian and then protected troop transports and oil ships to Guam in July and August.
Following duty off the Palaus and Ulithi, Melvin sailed to Manus and then was assigned to screening duty at Leyte Gulf in December. Melvin then participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait later in the month, and served during the preparations in the Solomon Islands for the Luzon assault. In January 1945, Melvin conducted fire support and screening duties at Lingayen Gulf, and also engaged Japanese suicide boats, planes, and swimmers.
Melvin also supported operations at Iwo Jima in February and at Okinawa in April, where she also served picket duty. In July, Melvin conducted bombardments on Honshu and Hokkaido, and was on duty in the Aleutian Islands when Japan surrendered. During the occupation, Melvin served with minesweepers off Northern Honshu and returned to the United States in October. Melvin was in reserve at San Diego from May 1946 until February 1951, and then joined Destroyer Squadron 24 in the Atlantic, before being deployed to the Mediterranean from April to October 1952 and April into June 1953. She was decommissioned in January 1954, struck from the Navy list in December 1974, and sold for scrap to the Trebor Marine Corporation in August 1975.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Melvin (DD-680)
Nearly every member of Melvin’s crew was exposed to asbestos during his service. The versatile material insulated steam pipes and boilers, protected engine and turbine parts, and was mixed into paints and cements. Asbestos was nearly fireproof and highly heat- and corrosion-resistant. It was also a significant health risk. Once that danger became known, use of the mineral was heavily regulated. Unfortunately, such rules came too late to protect the sailors that served during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma. This serious and often deadly cancer affects the mesothelium, a thin tissue that buffers many internal organs. Navy veterans suffer from this cancer more than members of any other armed service. Legal options exist for most victims of mesothelioma. The compensation you earn by taking legal action can help defray the high cost of treating the disease and provide financial security for your family.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-680.
NavSource Naval History. USS Melvin (DD-680).