USS Mugford (DD-389) was a Bagley-class destroyer constructed for the US Navy. She was the second naval vessel to be named in honor of James Mugford, a commander in the Continental Navy.
Mugford was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard on October 28, 1935. Launched on October 31, 1936, she was sponsored by Miss Madeline Orne. Lieutenant Commander E.W. Young took command of Mugford on August 16, 1937.
Following commissioning, Mugford conducted operations around the Hawaiian Islands and along the West Coast. At the time of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Mugford was serving as the flagship for Destroyer Division Eight of Destroyer Squadron Four, though she was berthed in the Navy Yard for repairs. Mugford was able to down three enemy plans with her antiaircraft guns before she steamed out of Pearl Harbor.
Following the attack, Mugford provided screening as part of the Wake Island relief force before providing regular escort duty between the United States and Australia. On May 15, 1943, Mugford rescued the survivors of Australian hospital ship AHS Centaur after that ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine off Point Lookout, Queensland.
On August 7, Mugford was patrolling the area off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal when she was attacked by a large Japanese airstrike. Mugford managed to shoot down two of the enemy planes, but eight of her men were killed, while 10 were missing and 17 were wounded. The following day, Mugford shot down another enemy plane and rescued two enemy pilots from the water. Two days later, she steamed to the Battle of Savo Island, where she rescued 400 survivors from USS Astoria (CA-34) and USS Vincennes (CA-44).
Mugford then performed escort and patrol duties until July, at which time she participated in the assault on Woodlark Island. She then resumed patrol duties until late October when she conducted pre-invasion bombardment in the area north of Finschafen. On October 20, Mugford and her four companion destroyers were attacked by enemy planes, but she suffered no damage from the attack.
On December 14th and 15th, Mugford participated in the New Guinea campaign before participating in an assault on Buna and Caple Gloucester on Christmas Day. During the assault on Christmas Day, Mugford shot down an enemy attacker, though she lost one man and six others were wounded in the attack.
Following repairs, Mugford resumed patrol and escort duties before returning to Pearl Harbor on May 10. She later participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea before continuing patrol and escort missions in the Marshalls and Marianas. Mugford then served as radar picket between Rota and Guam during an invasion of Guam. On August 28, Mugford assisted with taking down many enemy aircraft while protecting carriers at Formosa and Luzon.
On October 24, Mugford steamed to the Mindanao Sea, where she participated in the battle for Leyte Gulf. Six days later, she joined other destroyers as she guarded three ships that had been heavily damaged by a Japanese airstrike.
On December 5, Mugford was speeding to protect amphibious craft after spotting enemy aircraft in her patrol area at Surigao Strait. While providing protection, Mugford was crashed by a “Val” dive bomber. In addition to losing eight men, 14 crewmen were wounded and Mugford was badly damaged. She managed to pull into San Pedro without assistance before being ordered for repairs at Mare Island.
After returning to western Pacific waters in mid-March, Mugford served on antisubmarine patrol and a radar picket between Ulithi and Saipan until the war came to an end. Mugford then assisted with repatriating prisoners of war from Japan to Okinawa before screening carriers. She continued in this capacity until November 19, at which time she returned to San Diego before being decommissioned on August 29, 1946. Mugford was retained for decontamination experiments testing the results of atomic bombs. She was sunk on March 22, 1948 off Kwajalein.
Mugford received seven battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Mugford (DD-389)
Using asbestos in the construction of all vessels was required by the US Congress in the 1930s, after a deadly fire on a cruise ship killed 137 passengers and crew. Mugford deployed asbestos insulation in large quantities, particularly in ship's boilers and engine rooms, and to insulate steam pipes in the other sections of the vessel. Asbestos has long been known for its resistance to fire and heat; however, it was also demonstrated to be the primary cause of serious conditions including "miner's lung" and mesothelioma.
Tragically, the prognosis for mesothelioma cases is not favorable as mesothelioma disease patients usually have a life expectancy of less than two years after they are diagnosed. If you or someone in your family has received a diagnosis of pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma they may have legal recourse against the manufacturers of asbestos products. A mesothelioma lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and help you with next steps in the process.
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Mugford. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/h4/helm.htm Retrieved 1 January 2011.