The USS Porter (DD-800) remained on the Navy list for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Captain David Porter who served in the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars. Porter was commissioned as a Fletcher-class naval ship.
Porter was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in July 1943, launched in March 1944, and commissioned in June with Commander Howard R. Prince in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Porter was 376 feet, five inches in length, with a displacement of 2,924 tons, 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. Driven by Westinghouse turbines, she had a cruising speed of 38 knots and a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Porter reported for duty off Adak, Alaska in September 1944 and served in the Kurile Islands with Task Force 92 in November. During this deployment, Porter bombarded enemy military targets on Matsuwa, before conducting operations against Japan’s Suribachi Wan naval base in January 1945. Porter provided anti-shipping services in the Sea of Okhotsk and also conducted additional bombardments of Suribachi Wan in May as well as Matsuma in June.
Porter was stationed at Portland, Oregon for overhaul during the Japanese surrender, and then escorted Enterprise from Seattle, Washington to San Francisco, California. Following operations at San Diego, the destroyer reported to the east coast and was decommissioned with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina.
Porter returned to active duty in February 1951 and then was deployed to Korea from June to September 1952 as a member of Task Force 95. She was then decommissioned and put in reserve at Norfolk, Virginia in August 1953. Struck from the Navy list in March 1974 and broken up for scrap, Porter earned one battle star for her World War II operations and one star for her service in the Korean War.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Porter (DD-800)
Porter used asbestos components in many ship areas. Engineering, galleys and mess, and even crew quarters contained asbestos insulation and fireproofing. In most other areas of the ship, asbestos fibers were mixed into the cements and paints used on board. Asbestos was chosen because it was inexpensive to procure, durable, and highly heat and flame resistant. Unfortunately, it was later discovered to be toxic to humans.
Sailors that were exposed to asbestos can develop mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the tissue that buffers and protects many internal organs. Navy veterans are amongst those most likely to be diagnosed with the disease, as the quantity of asbestos dust in the air was greater on ships than in most land-based installations. Combat operations increased the risk by freeing additional fibers from damaged asbestos products.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-800.
NavSource Naval History. Porter (DD-800).