The USS Radford (DD-446) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral William Radford who served during the Mexican War and the Civil War. Radford was a member of the Fletcher class of destroyers.
Radford was laid down in Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in October 1941, launched in May 1942, and commissioned in July with Lieutenant Commander William K. Romoser in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Radford was 376 feet, five inches long and armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Radford began her service by towing the burning Wakefield to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then was assigned to anti-submarine patrol off the east coast. In December 1942, Radford was deployed to the Pacific and joined Task Group 67.5 at Noumea, New Caledonia and fought the Japanese at Guadalcanal in January 1943, as well as throughout the Solomon Islands.
Radford continued her battle service at Rendova in June, where she shot down five enemy planes, damaged a Japanese submarine, and rescued survivors of Helena. In September, Radford sank several enemy barges as well as Japanese submarine I-40 off Guadalcanal. Following overhaul at San Francisco, Radford served as a tanker screen at Majuro Atoll in February 1944, and then served during the campaign at New Guinea beginning in April.
Following repairs at Pearl Harbor, Radford participated in support duties for troop landings at Luzon in January 1945. She was damaged from a mine explosion soon after and sailed to San Francisco in February. Repairs continued until September, and Radford was placed out of commission from January 1946 until March 1949 when she was converted into escort destroyer DDE-446. Equipped to handle anti-submarine warfare, Radford departed for the western Pacific in May 1950 and served during the Korean War until November 1953.
Radford alternated between duty at Hawaii and operations in the Far East. This included service with the Taiwan Patrol and operations off Japan. She was overhauled in March 1960 with a helicopter hanger and flight deck. In February 1962, Radford joined Antisubmarine Warfare Task Group 70.4, and then underwent another overhaul to take on sonar equipment. From 1967 to 1969, Radford served during the Vietnam War. She was decommissioned in November 1969 at San Francisco, and sold for scrap in October 1970.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Radford (DD-446)
Asbestos-containing materials were deployed in large quantities in Radford’s engineering compartments. Crewmen serving in those areas, especially machinists, engineers, mechanics, and steamfitters had the greatest overall exposure. Since asbestos was used in many other applications on board as well, most other sailors were also exposed. Asbestos fibers can lodge in the respiratory tract and eventually cause the development of malignant mesothelioma. Legal options exist for Navy personnel with asbestos cancer.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-446.
NavSource Naval History, USS Radford (DD-446).