The USS Parker (DD-604) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for half a decade during the Second World War and remained on the Navy list until 1971. She was named for Foxhall Alexander Parker who served during the Civil War and was Commodore and Chief of Staff of the North Atlantic Fleet. Parker was a member of the Benson class of naval destroyers.
Parker was laid down at Staten Island, New York by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in June 1941, launched in May 1942, and commissioned in August 1942 with Commander John W. Bays in command. Carrying a crew of 208, Parker was armed with six one-half inch machine guns, four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes. She was 348 feet, four inches long and had a cruising speed of 35 knots.
Parker initially operated along the east coast and off Cuba, and then operated as a convoy escort to North Africa. The destroyer served during the attack on Mehedia and Port Lyautey in November 1942, and then conducted five more escort voyages between the United States and North African ports. In July 1943, Parker also served during the invasion of Sicily, followed by additional escort duty, and was then assigned to training and submarine patrol duty off the east coast of the United States.
In April 1944, Parker was deployed to the Mediterranean and conducted bombardments at Naples, Italy in May and June and then at Palermo, Sicily from mid-June to August. Parker was also involved in the invasion of southern France in August, and then returned to the east coast for repairs and training. She sailed to the Mediterranean once again in January 1945 for patrol duty off Gibraltar, and then bombarded enemy forces in support of troops in Italy and France.
Parker was deployed to the Pacific front in July, and arrived at Pearl Harbor in August, from where she was assigned escort duty between Okinawa and Korea. The destroyer was decommissioned with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina, in January 1947, struck from the Navy list in July 1971, and sold for scrap in May 1973. Parker was awarded four battle stars for her service in World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Parker (DD-604)
The U.S. Navy used asbestos in a variety of ways throughout its fleet, and continued using the material until the late 1970s. Because asbestos-containing materials were versatile, durable, and inexpensive, they were deployed in nearly every compartment aboard Parker and other destroyers of this era. Anyone that served on this ship was likely to be exposed to asbestos during his tour.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to malignant mesothelioma. Because the risk is greatest when asbestos products are worn or damaged, sailors responsible for repair and damage control had the most dangerous assignments. Fortunately, the link between service in the Navy and asbestos cancer is well established. If you or a loved one served aboard Parker and suffered from mesothelioma, you have a legal right to compensation.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-604.
NavSource Naval History. USS Parker (DD-604).