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USS O'Bannon (DD-987)

The USS O’Bannon (DD-987) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. She was named for Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon of the United States Marine Corps who served in the First Barbary War and in the Kentucky state legislature and the Kentucky State Senate. O’Bannon was a member of the Spruance class of naval ships.


O’Bannon was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in June 1977, launched in September 1978, and commissioned in December 1979 with Commander Marshall R. Willenbucher in command. Supporting a crew complement of 296, O’Bannon was 563 feet long with a total displacement of 7,800 tons.

O’Bannon was fitted with four gas turbines and two screws that allowed for a cruising speed of 30 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at 20 knots. She was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter.

Naval History

O’Bannon was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and visited Severomorsk, a Russian port, in the early 1980s, during which she participated in an exercise with guided missile destroyer Rastoropnyy. The destroyer visited Genoa, Italy in April 1981, and sailed to Lisbon, Portugal in January 1984. In 1991, O’Bannon participated in UNITAS XXXII which involved the U.S. Navy and navies from nine other countries in South America.

O’Bannon visited Kiel, Germany in June 1992 and was present at Malaga, Spain in March 1995. In 1998, the destroyer received an overhaul to her hull as well as electrical, piping, and boiler systems. O’Bannon participated in various weapons exercises in 2002 and 2003, when she was one of 19 ships that participated in an exercise with the Chilean Navy. A visit to Crete, Greece occurred in 2005 during a routine Mediterranean deployment.

O’Bannon participated in exercise Reliant Mermaid, which included Israeli and Turkish navies, off the coast of Israel, in January 2005. During this exercise, O’Bannon practiced and coordinated search and rescue operations with the other naval ships to boost humanitarian aid and maritime emergency response capabilities. Decommissioned in August 2005, O’Bannon was sunk in October 2008 by Vicksburg, Stout, Bainbridge, and Halyburton.

Asbestos Risk on the USS O'Bannon (DD-987)

By the time O’Bannon was built, the dangers of asbestos were well understood. Materials containing asbestos were used only when there was no other acceptable alternative. The bulk of asbestos containing materials aboard O’Bannon were concentrated in engineering spaces. The overall exposure risk to sailors on this ship was much lower than on vessels built even just a few years earlier.

Even though O’Bannon used significantly less asbestos than earlier destroyers, she did use some materials containing the mineral. It is believed that any exposure to asbestos, particularly airborne asbestos, can lead to serious health concerns, including mesothelioma cancer. Diseases related to asbestos often take many years to develop, so veterans of O’Bannon may yet become ill. Our free mesothelioma information packet is a valuable resource. It contains information about the disease, treatment options, and your legal rights as a victim of asbestos exposure. Get yours by completing the form on this page. There is no cost or obligation to you.



NavSource Naval History. USS O’Bannon (DD-987). USS O’Bannon (DD-987).

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