The USS Meredith (DD-890) served in the U.S. Navy for almost three and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Sergeant Jonathan Meredith who saved Lieutenant John Trip of Vixen at Tripoli Harbor in 1805. Meredith was designed to Gearing-class destroyer specifications.
Meredith was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in January 1945, launched in June, and commissioned in December with Commander William B. Wideman in command. Featuring a crew capacity of 336, Meredith was 390 feet, six inches in length and armed with 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Meredith was assigned to training submarine officers at New London, Connecticut, following trial and shakedown exercises, in the spring of 1946. During the midshipman training cruise of Randolph in the summer, Meredith operated as a plane guard. She then operated off Greenland and Newfoundland, and continued to serve in the western Atlantic from Maine to the Caribbean.
In 1948, Meredith participated in experimental tests with the Operational Development Force, and sailed with Destroyer Squadron 6 to the Mediterranean in May. Meredith served with the 6th Fleet on an annual basis until 1953. These deployments were alternated with service in the Arctic in November 1949 and various voyages to the Caribbean. Meredith conducted training missions with reservists and midshipmen in 1952.
Meredith spent much of 1953 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for overhaul, and then resumed her 2nd and 6th Fleet deployment schedule. In 1958, the destroyer operated in the Middle East during the July Iraqi revolution. Meredith was berthed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for FRAM overhaul in 1960, which included torpedo deck modifications and installation of a helicopter hanger and flight deck.
Meredith arrived at Mayport, Florida in July 1961 as her home port and then visited ports in the Caribbean before sailing to the west coast of Africa. Oceanographic data was collected along the way and Meredith returned to Mayport in February 1962 for equipment tests. From then until 1969, Meredith rotated between western Atlantic and Mediterranean operations. The destroyer was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in 1979, transferred to Turkey as Savastepe, and operated there until late-1994. The former Meredith was broken up for scrap in March 1995.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Meredith (DD-890)
Meredith featured asbestos insulation and fireproofing in many heat- and fire-sensitive areas. The boiler room and engineering compartments contained the highest concentration of the dangerous mineral, but no area of the ship was completely asbestos-free. This is because asbestos was often mixed into paints and cements used in the ships of this era, and was also the insulator of choice for steam pipes running all over the vessel.
Meredith’s long service history means that many Navy veterans were exposed to the asbestos on board. The greatest risk was to sailors stationed in engineering and to those repairing and refitting the ship. When existing asbestos products are handled, serviced, or removed, tiny asbestos fibers are often released into the air. Sailors and yard workers had inadequate protective gear easily inhaled these hazardous airborne fibers. Many years later, such exposure can lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. Because the latency period between exposure and diagnosis is often decades long, sailors that served in Meredith’s latter years may have only recently become ill.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-890.
NavSource Naval History. Meredith (DD-890).