The USS New (DD-818) served in the U.S. Navy for three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for PFC John D. New, a United States Marine Corps officer who was killed in action at Peleliu during World War II. New was a member of the Gearing class of naval destroyers.
New was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in April 1945, launched in August, and commissioned in April 1946 with Commander Matthew S. Schmidling in command. Carrying a crew of 336, New was 390 feet, six inches in length and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
New was deployed to the Mediterranean in August 1946, and operated off the coast of Greece with aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. During this deployment, New also served in the Adriatic Sea to avert an outbreak of hostilities between Yugoslavia and Italy. The destroyer returned to the United States in February 1947 and was assigned to type training and anti-submarine warfare exercises between Key West and the Davis Straits. New performed these services, and also midshipman training cruises in 1949 and 1950.
Reclassified as DDE-818 in March 1950, New participated in a NATO exercise in the Mediterranean and, in January 1951, began a routine of local duties out of Norfolk, Virginia and service in the Mediterranean as part of the Atlantic Fleet’s Destroyer Force. New was assigned to anti-submarine duties in April 1956 and then became flagship of Destroyer Squadron 36 in July. In 1958, New served with the 6th Fleet off Lebanon, and in 1962, was returned to her designation of DD-818. Following anti-submarine and surveillance exercises during the Cuban Quarantine, New was berthed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for FRAM Mark I conversion.
Assigned to Destroyer Squadron 22, New returned to active service in December 1963 and participated in anti-submarine exercises and training in 1964. New was deployed to the Middle East in 1965, to Vietnam in 1967, and to the Middle East again in the summer of 1968, and then called at many Eurasian ports when the Suez Canal was closed. The destroyer was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in 1976, and then transferred to South Korea, under the name Taejon, in 1977, where she was decommissioned in 2001.
Asbestos Risk on the USS New (DD-818)
Because asbestos material was used in so many applications on Gearing-class vessels, nearly every sailor on New was exposed to the mineral. Crewmembers serving in the engine room, as machinists, dealing with fire suppression, or conducting repairs had the highest exposure risk. Sailors performing other duties were likely to encounter asbestos-based paints, cements, and adhesives during the course of their service.
Dangerous levels of asbestos were also found in shipyards that built, repaired, and overhauled Navy ships. Workers at such facilities were in the same high-risk group for asbestos disease as veteran sailors. And because asbestos fibers could cling to worker’s clothes, families often suffered hazardous second-hand exposure. No matter how a person is exposed, inhaling asbestos fibers is known to cause mesothelioma and other serious diseases. Most people injured by asbestos can pursue compensation from the companies that made asbestos products.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-818.
NavSource Naval History. New (DD-818).