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USS Pringle (DD-477)

The USS Pringle (DD-477) was a Fletcher-class destroyer named for Vice Admiral J.R.R. Pringle.

Construction

Pringle was laid down by the Charleston Navy Yard in South Carolina in July 1941 and was launched in May 1942. She was commissioned on September 15, 1942, with Lieutenant Commander Harold O. Larson as her captain.

Pringle was equipped with a seaplane catapult and a retrieval crane, as were two other Fletchers, but Pringle was the only one to have actually used the system. A scout plane was supposed to be flung into the sky from the deck, complete its mission and land in the water next to the ship, and then returned to the deck via the crane. This system turned out to not be as much of an asset as originally planned when tested off of Halifax on January 1, 1943 when both the weather and the ship’s size made retrieval difficult. All three ships were later converted back to the regular Fletcher configuration.

Naval History

After her shakedown cruise in the North Atlantic, Pringle headed to the Pacific and took up regular patrol duties in February, 1943. In action with Waller and Saufley, she scored several torpedo hits against Japanese destroyers off of Vanga Point in the Solomons on July 17-18, and shot down a Japanese plane. She continued operations in the islands, notably covering mine laying in August and sinking three barges on September 3-4 in the Kolumbagara area. Pringle finished off the year by bombarding Bougainville, shooting down one plane and damaging another on November 11.

Pringle mostly stayed in the Bougainville area until March, when she set sail for the Marianas for more screening, bombardment and anti-submarine patrols during the invasions of Saipan and Tinian. The ship overhauled in Mare Island, then left for the Pearl Harbor to meet up with the rest of the Philippine invasion force. She shot down another plane in Ormoc Bay, Leyte in late November 1944. Pringle rejoined Waller and Saufley, and together with Renshaw they sunk the submarine I-46.

Pringle came under intense air attack between in late December in Mindoro while escorting a convoy. Although she shot down two planes, she lost several ships in the convoy and suffered a direct hit on December 30, 1944. The kamikaze struck her after deckhouse, killing 11 men and injuring 20. One 40 inch mount was destroyed and two 5 inch mounts were damaged. The ship went in for repairs and returned to action in time for the assault on Iwo Jima before heading to Okinawa.

While on radar picket duty off of Okinawa, Pringle shot down two planes on 16 April, 1945 before suffering a fatal blow from a third kamikaze. It crashed into her bridge, slashing through the superstructure deck by the base of the number one stack. It is unclear if the kamikaze was carrying one 1000 pound bomb or two 500 pound ones, but plane’s bombs and the ship’s ordinance together caused an explosion that buckled the keel and split her in two. Six minutes later, Pringle sunk. 258 of her crew survived, and 62 were lost with her.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Pringle (DD-477)

Asbestos materials were used almost everywhere on Pringle. Insulation, fireproofing, gaskets, and packing for pumps and valves were all made from asbestos. Because of her abundant applications for asbestos, nearly every sailor aboard Pringle endured some exposure to the mineral.

The risk on Pringle was even greater because she was a wartime ship. Combat operations and enemy fire stressed asbestos materials and caused them to shed fibers into the air. Breathing air contaminated with asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other serious diseases. If you were so injured, an asbestos lawyer can help protect your legal rights.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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