The USS Paul Jones (DD-230) served in the US Navy for over two-and-a-half decades in the early 20th century. She was named for John Paul Jones, an officer of the Continental Navy during the American Revolution, best known for his response to a British commander who demanded he surrender: “I have not yet begun to fight.” Paul Jones was designed as a Clemson-class vessel.
Paul Jones was laid down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company in December 1919, launched in September 1920, and commissioned in April 1921. Carrying a crew of 114, Paul Jones had a displacement of 1,215 tons and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Paul Jones served with the Atlantic Fleet until being transferred to the Pacific in 1923 with the Asiatic Fleet. During this deployment, Paul Jones conducted patrols on the Yangtze River as well as the China coast, and was the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 29, Asiatic Fleet. Paul Jones aided in the search for Japanese submarines following attacks on Dutch vessels and rescued survivors from both ships. In January 1942, Paul Jones joined a group of destroyers to intercept an enemy convoy en route to Balikpapan, Indonesia and, while two ships in the group suffered mechanical problems, the ships engaged the Japanese convoy and caused severe damage.
In February, Paul Jones escorted SS Tidore to Timor and was attacked by Japanese bombers, but was able to dodge the enemy fire. Tidore was grounded and lost, while Paul Jones rescued several crew members. Paul Jones participated in the Battle of the Java Sea, but returned to Soerabaja when her fuel ran low and torpedoes were used up. The next day, Paul Jones sailed close to shore to escape Japanese forces around Java, along with three other destroyers.
Following repairs in Australia, Paul Jones was assigned to escort duty between California and Pearl Harbor until March 1943. Paul Jones was then deployed to New York and operated as a convoy escort between the east coast of the United States and North Africa. In 1944, Paul Jones temporarily conducted ASW patrol near Chesapeake Bay, served as a training ship in the Panama Canal Zone until April 1945, and then helped refuel escorts between the Azores and Casablanca.
Paul Jones was reclassified as miscellaneous auxiliary AG-120 in June 1945. She was decommissioned in November and then sold for scrap to the Northern Metals Company in October 1947.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Paul Jones (DD-230)
The installation of asbestos insulation in the design of oceangoing vessels was required by law in the US in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard a cruise ship killed more than 100 people. Ships like Paul Jones used asbestos-containing materials heavily around boilers and engine spaces, and for insulation in the other sections of the ship. Asbestos has long been known for its ability to insulate; however, it has also been demonstrated to be the only known factor in the development of life-threatening illnesses including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-230.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd230txt.htm Retrieved 29 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Paul Jones (DD-230).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/230.htm Retrieved 29 December 2010.