The USS Monaghan (DD-354) served in the U.S. Navy for less than a decade in the early 20th century. She was named for Ensign John Robert Monaghan who was honored for his service in the Second Samoan Civil War. Monaghan was laid down as a Farragut-class vessel.
Monaghan was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard in November 1933, launched in January 1935, and commissioned in April with Commander R.R. Thompson in command. Carrying a crew of 160, Monaghan was 341 feet, three inches long and armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four one-half inch machine guns, and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Monaghan spent her first few years of service in the North Atlantic on training duty. On December 7, 1941, Monaghan was ready for duty at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. She rammed and depth charged an enemy submarine in the harbor, and then patrolled offshore with the Lexington group. Following convoy duty to the west coast, Monaghan was deployed to the South Pacific, and was assigned to relaying messages when the Lexington and Yorktown group fought the Japanese in the Coral Sea in May 1942.
During the Battle of Midway, Monaghan joined Gwin and Hughes in an attack on a Japanese submarine that severely damaged Yorktown, which sank 16 hours later. Monaghan and the other ships inflicted damage on the submarine. In June, Monaghan was deployed to the Aleutian Islands and was damaged in a collision during heavy fog, repaired at Dutch Harbor and Pearl Harbor, and then served as a convoy escort on the west coast.
Monaghan sailed again to the South Pacific in November, but suffered damaged propellers after hitting an underwater obstruction in Fiji, and had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. When repairs were completed by February 1943, Monaghan returned to the Aleutians and participated in the battle of the Komandorski Islands. Patrol and escort missions in the area continued throughout the summer, and Monaghan pursued a Japanese submarine in June which eventually beached on rocks and was abandoned.
Monaghan performed escort duty at the Gilbert Islands and later in the Marshall Islands during the invasion there, and continued patrol and escort duty in the Marshalls for a month after the invasion. She also patrolled during the Battle of the Philippine Sea and operated as an anti-submarine screen for the assault on Guam. In December 1944, Monaghan escorted oil ships to rendezvous with TF 38, and then sank during a typhoon. There were only six survivors.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Monaghan (DD-354)
The tumultuous history of the Monaghan provided plenty of opportunity for her crew to encounter friable and airborne asbestos. The ship, like most other Navy vessels of her time, used asbestos insulation in fireproofing in nearly every compartment. Collisions, whether intentional or not, had the potential to launch dangerous clouds of asbestos dust into the air. Water damage to installed asbestos products was also likely to increase the risk to sailors. Battle damage and the wear and tear of combat service created an even more hazardous asbestos environment.
Only six sailors survived Monaghan’s sinking, but many more sailors served some time on her before she sank. Everyone that served time on this ship likely suffered some exposure to asbestos. Navy veterans are amongst those most likely to develop asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-354.
NavSource Naval History, USS Monaghan (DD-354).