USS Russell (DD-414) was a Sims-class destroyer constructed for the U.S. Navy. She was named in honor of Rear Admiral John Henry Russell, who served during the Mexican-American and Civil wars.
Russell was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia on December 20, 1937. Launched on December 8, 1938, she was sponsored by Mrs. Charles H. Marshall, who was the granddaughter of Rear Admiral Russell. Lieutenant Commander J.C. Pollock took command of Russell on November 3, 1939.
Following commissioning, Russell conducted Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean and western Atlantic. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Russell sailed west as she provided reinforcements to Samoa.
Russell continued to serve as a screen over the next several months as she assisted in raids in Makin, Mili, Jaluit, Rabaul and Gasmata. On May 7, Russell engaged enemy planes while providing screening in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Carrier Lexington was hit and badly damaged during the attack, forcing her to abandon ship. Russell picked up 170 of the survivors and continued tocircle the ship and her survivors as rescue ships evacuated personnel.
On May 30, Russell headed to Midway Island and once again became engaged in an air duel. Carrier Yorktown, which had been damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea, was struck by a torpedo. Russell rescued 492 of the survivors. Following two months of training, Russell provided screening to Hornet before spending the rest of the year providing support to the Guadalcanal campaign and participating in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
Russell spent much of 1944 conducting escorts in areas such as New Zealand before returning to Pearl Harbor on December 9. In May 1945, Russell participated in the capture of Sansapor, known as Operation Globetrotter. She continued to conduct operations in support of the campaign until mid-September, at which time she headed to the Molucca Islands to assist with the occupation of Morotai.
Russell continued to serve in numerous operations as she provided screen and conducted escort duties. While undergoing an overhaul in Seattle, Washington, the war came to an end. Russell was then prepared for inactivation before being decommissioned on November 15, 1945. She was struck from the Navy list on November 28 that same year. Russell was sold for scrap to the National Metal and Steel Corporation in Terminal Island, Los Angeles in September 1947. She earned 16 battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Russell (DD-414)
Ships employ many components that produce high levels of thermal energy, such as turbines and boilers. Asbestos was installed to insulate these and other areas of the ship. It was also used for fireproofing, and in cements and tars. So many products used aboard Russell contained asbestos that nearly every one of her sailors likely suffered some exposure to the dangerous mineral.
An exposed person's probability of developing mesothelioma rises significantly if his or her work involved frequent contact with frayed asbestos fibers. Battle damage, fires, refits and overhauls all increase exposure to such fibers. The Russell participated in extensive combat operations during World War II, placing her veterans in this elevated risk group.Sources
Russell. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.