The USS Sands (DD-243) served in the US Navy for more than twenty years in the early 20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral Benjamin F. Sands who served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. The Sands was constructed as a Clemson-class destroyer.
Sands was laid down in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Company in March 1919, launched in October 1919, and commissioned in November 1920 with Ensign William D. Leahy in temporary command. Carrying a crew of 114, Sands was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
USS Sands was commissioned in Philadelphia in November and received Commander Robert L. Ghormley as commanding officer in December, and then was prepared for European duty. In January 1921, Sands sailed between French and British ports until August, and was then assigned to duty in the Baltic Sea. Sands provided support for American Relief Committee efforts in Turkey and Greece until July. In the fall, Sands was overhauled in Philadelphia, and then alternated between service in the Caribbean and along the east coast until November 1930, when she was inactivated in Philadelphia and decommissioned in February 1931.
The Sands was reactivated in July 1932 and conducted exercises off San Diego and Hawaii. Deactivated at San Diego from September 1938 to September 1939, Sands was then assigned to patrol and escort duty off the east coast. Sands served as a coastal escort when the United States entered World War II, and operated on the west coast up to Alaska. In October 1942, Sands was re-designated APD-13 and converted to a high-speed transport, operated at Pearl Harbor until January 1943, and then served in the South Pacific.
In January, Sands and other ships were attacked by Japanese aircraft in the Solomon Islands, wounding nine crew members, but was able to pick up survivors from Chicago. Sands later served as a troop transport and escort between Australia and the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, aiding preparations for battles in Palau, Anguar, and Ulithi. In 1945, Sands was also stationed at Santiago Island, Leyte, and Saipan and operated as an escort to Okinawa. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia in October and sold for scrap to the Boston Metals Company the next spring.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Sands (DD-243)
Using asbestos insulation in the design of marine vessels was ordered by the US Congress in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. Sands, like most Navy ships of the time, deployed asbestos insulation heavily, especially in engines and engineering compartments, and for fireproofing all over the vessel. Asbestos has long been known for its insulation properties; however, it was also proven to be the only known cause of such debilitating diseases including asbestos cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-243.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd243txt.htm Retrieved 30 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Sands (DD-243).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/243.htm Retrieved 30 December 2010.