The USS O’Hare (DD-889) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century, before being loaned to Spain. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry O’Hare who served in World War II. O’Hare was laid down as a member of the Gearing class of naval ships.
O’Hare was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in January 1945, launched in June, and commissioned in November with Commander Robert W. Leach in command. Carrying a crew of 336, O’Hare was armed with 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. She was 390 feet, six inches long and had a total displacement of 3,460 tons.
O’Hare ranged in service from New Brunswick, Canada down to the Florida Keys in 1946, and then conducted a midshipman training cruise to Latin America in the summer of 1947. The destroyer sailed to the Mediterranean with United Nations forces in 1948 during an Arab-Israeli conflict. O’Hare visited several locations afterward on goodwill missions before returning home in September.
O’Hare served on eight more tours of the Mediterranean through 1962, which included NATO exercises and training and rescue operations. The destroyer was commended twice for mid-sea ship rescues in 1952. O’Hare also rescued aviators, from aircraft carriers Randolph and Franklin D. Roosevelt, from the ocean. In 1953, O’Hare was converted to radar picket ship DDR-889 and was overhauled in 1958 for installation of an electronic data system. O’Hare was returned to her original designation with an FRAM Mark I overhaul in 1963.
O’Hare was reassigned to the Pacific in June 1966 and was deployed to the combat zone off Vietnam, where she conducted gun support off the coast. After circling the world, O’Hare returned home and began operating on the east coast of the United States in December until sailing for the Mediterranean in January 1969. O’Hare was decommissioned in October 1973 and loaned to Spain, where she was renamed Mendez Nunez. Struck from the U.S. Navy list in June 1975, the former O’Hare was sold to Spain in May 1978 and then used for scrap in 1992.
Asbestos Risk on the USS O'Hare (DD-889)
Vessels built in the 1940’s used asbestos materials in nearly every compartment and corridor. The O’Hare’s engineering spaces made the heaviest use of the mineral fiber, where it insulated and fireproofed engines, turbines, boilers, and other essential systems. Asbestos was also important to fire safety in galleys and bunks. Every sailor that served aboard O’Hare was exposed to asbestos.
Sustained, high levels of asbestos exposure are the most hazardous. Sailors performing damage control or engineering duties often had the highest risk. Anyone breathing asbestos fibers can potentially develop mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer affecting the tissue that surrounds our internal organs. Many Navy veterans that served during O’Brien’s time have had their lives cut short by this deadly disease.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-889.
NavSource Naval History. O’Hare (DD-889).