The USS O’Bannon (DD-450) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon who served with the Marine Corps in the First Barbary War as well as in the Kentucky state government. O’Bannon was built as a Fletcher-class ship.
O’Bannon was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in March 1941, launched in March 1942, and commissioned in June with Lieutenant Commander E.R. Wilkinson in command. Carrying a crew of 273, O’Bannon 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.
O’Bannon was deployed from Boston in August 1942 to the Southwest Pacific, where she was based at Noumea, New Caledonia for escort duty. During the Battle of Guadalcanal, O’Bannon attacked the Japanese battleship Hiei and disabled the enemy ship, which sank during an air attack the following day. In October 1943, O’Bannon protected troop landings and participated in various bombardments in the area. Shewas awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for her service in this battle.
O’Bannon also served in the Battle of the Kula Gulf in July and the Battle of Vela Lavella in October where she rescued the survivors of the enemy-stricken Chevalier. Repaired at Tulagi, O’Bannon was overhauled on the west coast and returned to the Solomon Islands in March 1944, where she escorted reinforcements in preparation for the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
In June 1945, O’Bannon served escort and assault duties during several invasions in the Philippines, and also participated in the Lingayen offensive. O’Bannon escorted aircraft carriers off Okinawa and patrolled off Honshu toward the end of the war. She was decommissioned and overhauled at San Diego in May 1946, and underwent conversion to escort destroyer DDE 450 from January 1949 to February 1950.
O’Bannon served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, and in between both conducted training operations with the 7th fleet. In 1962, she participated in atomic tests at Johnston Island and was part of the recovery force for the Gemini 11 space flight in September 1966. O’Bannon was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list in January 1970 and sold for scrap to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation in June.
Asbestos Risk on the USS O'Bannon (DD-450)
O’Bannon contained asbestos insulation and fireproofing in most parts of the vessel. Her steam pipes were wrapped in asbestos, and her boilers and engines were shielded with asbestos materials. The mineral was also mixed into paints used in many locations on board. The wide variety of applications for asbestos on O’Bannon means that no sailor that served on this vessel was completely safe from exposure. Maritime asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma in Navy veterans. If you were diagnosed with asbestos cancer after serving aboard O’Bannon, you can pursue legal action against the companies that made the harmful products on board your ship.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-450.
NavSource Naval History, USS O’Bannon (DD-450).