The USS Pruitt (DD-347) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades during the early part of the 20th century, and earned three battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Corporal John Henry Pruitt who served with the Marine Corps in World War I. Pruitt was built as a Clemson-class ship.
Pruitt was laid down at Bath, Maine by Bath Iron Works in June 1919, launched in August 1920, and commissioned in September with Lieutenant M.R. Derx in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Pruitt was 314 feet, five inches long and armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes. She was driven by geared turbines and had a cruising speed of 35 knots.
Pruitt was stationed at Pearl Harbor for overhaul when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. During the attack, her crew boarded other ships to help combat the enemy aircraft. When the overhaul was completed in January 1942, Pruitt conducted offshore patrols and mine laying duties off Hawaii. Pruitt was assigned to operate out of Kodiak, Alaska in June and performed mine laying operations and escort duty there and in the Aleutians. This duty continued into the fall, in between service in the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1943, Pruitt operated with the 4th Marine Raider Battalion in the waters off southern California, and was also assigned to escort service. Pruitt returned to the Aleutian Islands in April and escorted landing craft to Massacre Bay at Attu, and conducted anti-submarine and anti-aircraft patrols in the area. Patrol and escort duty continued from Amchitka and Adak until the end of May.
Pruitt arrived on the west coast in June and was deployed to the Solomon Islands in September, where she planted mines and served as an escort. Following an overhaul at San Francisco in July 1944, Pruitt performed patrol duty near Midway Island in January 1945 and helped train submarines off Oahu until World War II ended. Pruitt was reclassified as AG-101 in June, decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in November, and scrapped at Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Pruitt (DD-347)
New safety regulations in the 1930s called for a better means of fireproofing on ships, and asbestos was the answer. The extreme heat produced by engines and turbines was countered with asbestos insulation. Boilers were lined with asbestos fireproofing. As the mineral was also impervious to corrosion, it was used to pack pumps and valves. The many applications of asbestos ensured that no area on Pruitt was completely safe.
Sailors that interacted with asbestos materials as part of their daily work had the greatest risk. Steamfitters, electricians, and welders were the most likely to encounter asbestos. Any exposure to airborne asbestos fibers can lead to mesothelioma later in life. If you or a loved one was harmed by the asbestos used aboard Pruitt, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to protect your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-347.
NavSource Naval History, USS Pruitt (DD-347).