The USS Perry was a Gearing-class destroyer in service with the United States Navy between 1945 and 1973. She was named for Commodore Oliver Perry, who defeated a British naval force during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.
Perry was built at the Bath Iron Works Shipyard beginning in May 1945. She was launched in October of that year and commissioned the following January.
The Gearing-class destroyer was essentially an upgrade of the Fletcher class, which was the backbone of the U.S. Navy's destroyer force through Vietnam and continued in service with other navies into the 21st Century. At 390 feet and six inches, it fourteen feet longer and a foot wider than its predecessor, making room for additional fuel and extending the vessel’s range. The Gearing class also had twin rudders for greater maneuverability and greater firepower.
Perry's engines consisted of two high-pressure boilers built by Babcock and Wilcox, driving a pair of General Electric steam turbines; this gave her a top speed of 35 knots (about 40 MPH). Her crew during peacetime consisted of 11 officers and 325 seamen.
Following her initial shakedown near Cuba and a period of training out of NS Pensacola, Perry was deployed to Western Europe and the Mediterranean for a nine-month tour of duty. Upon her return to the States, she was stationed out of Newport, Rhode Island. For the next four years, she remained in operation along the Atlantic Coast from Puerto Rico to Newfoundland.
Perry was regularly deployed to the Mediterranean throughout the decade of the 1950s, serving as a training vessel in various capacities between these deployments.
In April 1959, Perry became the first U.S. naval vessel to undergo a Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization (FRAM) conversion. Upon completion of this work, she was assigned to Mayport, Florida and spent two years engaging in missile tests and training cruises.
Between 192 and 1969, the destroyer made regular deployments to the Mediterranean and Middle East. Perry was deployed to Vietnam in January 1969, remaining in the combat zone until August. She continued in service out of Mayport through 1970s.
USS Perry was finally decommissioned in 1973 and her hulk sold for scrap the following year.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Perry (DD-844)
Perry used asbestos products as an insulating material for their boilers, engines, pipes, and heavy equipment. Nearly every section of the ship contained asbestos insulated pipes or cement or sealant mixed with asbestos. All of Perry’s crew have some risk of suffering mesothelioma or other ailments as a result of their service exposure to asbestos. Those that participated in her construction and FRAM upgrade are also at risk.Sources
Destroyer History Foundation. "Gearing Class"
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).