The USS Norman Scott (DD-690) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy during the Second World War and remained on the Navy list for nearly three more decades. She was named for Rear Admiral Norman Scott who served in both world wars. Norman Scott was laid down as a Fletcher-class naval ship.
Norman Scott was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in April 1943, launched in August, and commissioned in November with Commander Seymour D. Owens in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Norman Scott was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns. She was driven by General Electric geared turbines supporting a cruising speed of 38 knots and a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Norman Scott departed Boston, Massachusetts in January 1944 for Pearl Harbor as an escort for Canberra. Following arrival at the naval base in February, Norman Scott was deployed to the Marshall Islands as a protective guard for Gambier Bay. Norman Scott was then assigned to duty in the Mariana Islands, out of Pearl Harbor, escorted heavy bombardment ships to their positions there, and also conducted fire support for the invasion. She also operated during the invasions of Saipan and Tinian in June. During the Tinian assault, Norman Scott was struck by enemy fire resulting in the loss of 21 crew members and the captain.
Norman Scott was repaired back at Saipan and at Mare Island Navy Yard by October. Following crew training off Hawaii, Norman Scott escorted troop transports from Manus to the Philippines and then joined 5th and 3rd fleet forces in February 1945 for the assaults on Iwo Jima and then Okinawa. Norman Scott participated in the bombardments of the Japanese home islands toward the end of the war, and then supported the occupation from the naval base at Yokosuka. She was decommissioned at San Francisco in April 1946 and then was moved to San Diego, before being stationed at Mare Island in 1947. Struck from the Navy list in April 1973, Norman Scott was sold for scrap to the American Ship Dismantling Corporation in December.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Norman Scott (DD-690)
Fibrous asbestos has several properties that make it perfect for use in naval vessels. It is lightweight, durable, heat resistant, and it does not corrode. It is also largely fireproof. Products containing asbestos were deployed throughout Norman Scott and most other ships of this era. The highest concentration of asbestos materials was in the engineering sections, where it was used to insulate boilers and shield engine parts. Asbestos pipe insulation ran through many compartments and corridors.
Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos is also very harmful. Worn and damaged asbestos products release tiny fibers into the surrounding air when handled. Once inhaled, these fibers can lodge in the tissue surrounding the lungs, causing scarring and, in the most severe cases, mesothelioma. Damage from enemy fire likely increased the exposure risk aboard Norman Scott.
Many World War II Navy veterans have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. The high concentration of asbestos materials on the ships of that time, damage to those materials in combat, and a poor understanding of the potential health consequences of asbestos exposure combined to place America’s sailors at significant risk. Fortunately, there are legal options for veterans with mesothelioma.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-690.
NavSource Naval History. USS Norman Scott (DD-690).