The USS Mullany (DD-528) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century, and continued duty in Taiwan until the end of the century. She was named for Rear Admiral Robert Madison Mullany who served in the Mexican War and the Civil War. Mullany was a member of the Fletcher class of naval destroyers.
Mullany was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in January 1942, launched in October, and commissioned in April 1943 with Commander Baron J. Mullaney in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Mullany was 376 feet, five inches long and armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Mullany conducted escort service in the Aleutians, and then joined the 7th Fleet in December 1943 to guard minesweepers off the Admiralty Islands in March 1944. While American troops fought onshore, Mullany fired on Japanese harbor defenses in the area. Mullany was then assigned to screen Wasatch, the flagship of the 7th Fleet, during the invasion of Leyte Gulf in October, and then served escort duty for troop transports during the invasion of Iwo Jima in Febuary.
In April 1945, Mullany conducted anti-submarine operations at Okinawa and was attacked by Japanese fighter planes. The flames were extinguished by Purdy, but 21 crew members were lost, and Mullany was able to return to Pearl Harbor under her own power. Following repairs, Mullany returned to duty and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet until she was decommissioned in February 1946, and had received seven battle stars for her service in World War II. When reactivated in January 1954, Mullany served with the Atlantic Fleet and was deployed to the Mediterranean on peace-keeping missions three times.
Mullany sailed to San Diego Naval Shipyard in November and spent ten years with the 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific to serve patrol and training duties. The destroyer also served in the Vietnam War as a screen for aircraft carrier Independence in 1966. Mullany returned to San Diego in March 1967 and operated along the California coast, until being transferred to Taiwan in October 1971 as Chaing Yang. She was stricken in July 1999.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Mullany (DD-528)
Because asbestos was both heat and fire resistant, materials containing the mineral were found throughout Mullany. The toxic material was used in nearly every compartment and corridor as insulation and fireproofing. Such heavy use of asbestos on the ships of this era has made service in the U.S. Navy one of the most significant risk factors for mesothelioma cancer.
Sailors that worked in the engine room, operated heavy machinery, or performed damage control were exposed to asbestos more frequently. Repairing boilers and power plant equipment was exceptionally dangerous duty. Vessels that were damaged in combat, as Mullany was, presented an additional asbestos risk. When asbestos products are damaged or worn, individual fibers are more likely to break free of the material and enter the air. As the dangers of asbestos weren’t well understood during World War II, sailors serving on Mullany during that period were unlikely to have sufficient protection against inhaling the airborne asbestos loosed when she was attacked.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-528.
NavSource Naval History, USS Mullany (DD-528).