The USS Peterson (DD-969) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately two and a half decades at the end of the 20th century. She was named for Carl J. Peterson, a U.S. Navy officer killed during the Vietnam War. Peterson was built as a Spruance-class ship.
Peterson was laid down in Pascagoula, Mississippi by Litton Ingalls in April 1974. She was launched in June 1975 and commissioned in July 1977. Peterson carried a crew of 296 and had a cruising speed of 30 knots. She was armed with two five-inch 54 RFs, one Sea Sparrow missile, and six 12.75-inch MK 32s. She also featured a helicopter.
Peterson began her tenure in the U.S. Navy with two deployments to the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean between 1977 and 1981. Her third deployment was to the Mediterranean, after which she returned to the US for a lengthy overhaul for upgrades to her weaponry systems and the addition of enhanced electronics.
In 1984, Peterson was part of an action off the coast of Beirut, and in 1985, she participated in the NATO exercise Ocean Safari. In 1986, the vessel was sent to the Mediterranean for a search-and-rescue operation near Libya, and in 1988, she completed surveillance on a Soviet vessel and participated in joint ventures with the navies of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and Tunisia.
The 1990s began with another deployment to the Mediterranean. Shortly after Peterson’s arrival in the region, however, civil war broke out in Liberia, and the vessel was called upon to help evacuate American citizens and refugees. After the ship returned to the U.S., a subsequent overhaul included the addition of a vertical launching system, updated sonar equipment, and support for more advanced helicopters. Following this upgrade, Peterson spent time off the coast of Haiti during Operation Support Democracy, patrolling various Central and South American coastlines as part of an anti-drug operation, and serving in the Eastern Atlantic with NATO forces.
In 2000, Peterson visited various ports in Europe (including the Baltic region) and participated in a number of joint naval exercises, mainly in pursuit of peace-keeping and general training. The vessel was finally decommissioned in 2002. She was sunk as a target in 2004 as part of a weapons test.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Peterson (DD-969)
Because of its versatility and number of applications, asbestos-containing materials were found in almost every compartment and corridor on a Navy ship. Even Peterson, built towards the end of the Navy’s reliance on asbestos materials, contained dangerous quantities of asbestos products. Systems that produced significant heat, like engines and power plants, were insulated and fireproofed with asbestos products. Elsewhere, the mineral was mixed into putties, cements, and paints. While many of the dangers of asbestos exposure were well understood during Peterson’s time afloat, her sailors still faced a significant risk of unprotected exposure.
When breathed in or swallowed, microscopic asbestos fibers can become lodged in the mesothelium, a thin, protective tissue surrounding many internal organs. There, it can cause scarring, tissue damage, and sometimes, mesothelioma. The risk of asbestos cancer increases with sustained exposure. Because the diseases caused by asbestos can take many years to develop, veterans of Peterson may yet become ill. Request our free information kit on mesothelioma, treatment options, and your legal rights by completing the form on this page.Sources