The USS Paul Hamilton (DD-590) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II, and remained on the Navy list until the late 1960s. She was named for Paul Hamilton who served as governor of South Carolina and then Secretary of the Navy under President Monroe. Paul Hamilton was a member of the Fletcher class of naval destroyers.
Paul Hamilton was laid down by the Charleston Navy Yard in June 1943, launched in April, and commissioned in October with Commander Leo G. May in command. Supporting a crew complement of 273, Paul Hamilton 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.
Paul Hamilton conducted training operations out of Chesapeake Bay until departing for Hawaii in April 1944. From Pearl Harbor, Paul Hamilton was assigned as a protective screen for vessels that were replenishing aircraft and fuel during the Saipan invasion in June. She also served with Task Force 58 for the Battle of the Philippine Sea later in the month. From September until early October, Paul Hamilton continued her duties at the Palau Islands, as well as with the 3rd Fleet for the Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa operations into November.
Paul Hamilton operated as a patrol vessel at Leyte Gulf in December, in order to protect shipping from enemy attacks. The destroyer also protected the amphibious assault force at Mindoro Island, where she also engaged enemy aircraft and protected Army re-supply ships. Paul Hamilton followed the war path to the Lingayen Gulf assault in January 1945, when she rescued survivors of Ommaney Bay.
Paul Hamilton replenished her supplies at Ulithi before rejoining war efforts at Iwo Jima to provide shore bombardment, fire support, and rescue services in February and March. The destroyer continued fire support duties during several more island invasions through June. Paul Hamilton arrived at San Diego Naval Shipyard in July for overhaul, and was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet in September. Awarded with seven battle stars for her World War II operations, she was struck from the Navy list in May 1968 and sold for scrap to the National Metal & Steel Corporation in April 1970.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Paul Hamilton (DD-590)
In the 1930s, asbestos insulation material was put into place aboard most maritime vessels because of new safety regulations. Ships contain many components which generate high quantities of thermal energy, such as engines and turbines, and asbestos was perceived as a ‘miracle mineral’ to insulate these pieces of equipment. Eventually researchers realized that asbestos was extremely dangerous, and the mineral was largely banned beginning in 1979.
Paul Hamilton was built for World War II, and contained asbestos in nearly every compartment and corridor. The heaviest concentration of asbestos materials was in the engineering sections, power plants, and engines, but no area of the ship was completely safe from contamination. Everyone that served aboard this vessel had some exposure risk, regardless of his assigned duties. Inhaling and ingestion of asbestos fibers is linked to the development of mesothelioma cancer.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-590.
NavSource Naval History. USS Paul Hamilton (DD-590).