The USS Seymour D. Owens (DD-767) was constructed by the United States Navy between April of 1944 and February of 1947, but was never completed, commissioned, or placed into active service. Seymour D. Owens was built as a Gearing-class ship. She was named for Seymour Dunlop Owens, a United States Navy officer during the first half of the 20th century. Owens was appointed commander of the USS Norman Scott in 1942 and led the ship through important actions in the Marshalls and the Marianas. It was during this latter operation that the vessel was hit by enemy fire while maneuvering close to the shore as part of an assault. Owens was killed along with 21 of his men. The commander was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.
Seymour D. Owens was laid down in San Francisco, California by Bethlehem Steel in April of 1944. She was launched in February of 1947, and she was never commissioned or officially deployed. Seymour D. Owens was designed to carry a crew of 336 and offer a cruising speed of 36.8 knots. Plans were to arm the vessel with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Seymour D. Owens was never placed into active service. She was in the early stages of construction when World War II ended, and with so many ships being re-directed from service stations in the Pacific to other points across the globe, the Navy decided that they had no need for yet another vessel.
Instead of being commissioned, the ship (then just an incomplete hulk) was berthed at Suisun Bay for a period of nearly ten years. She remained there until May of 1956, when she was towed to Long Beach, California. There, sections of her hull were removed and used to repair USS Ernest G. Small (DD-838), an active ship in the Navy’s fleet. The remainder of Seymour D. Owens was sold for scrap in 1959.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Seymour D. Owens (DD-767)
Factories began using ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) in the late 1800s because it was well-suited for industrial applications. Asbestos insulation and fireproofing has been used in the design of both merchant and naval craft like Seymour D. Owens since the 1930s. The U.S. Navy understood the value of fireproof insulation aboard its ships and continued to use asbestos up to the 1970s.
As Seymour D. Owens was never completed, she never had a crew complement and never was exposed to enemy fire or the rigors of the maritime environment. Still, as she was nearly completed in drydock, workmen would have had a reasonably high level of asbestos exposure while constructing her and later while scrapping her.
If it is inhaled into the lungs, asbestos material causes damage to the mesothelium and can result in mesothelioma. It is accepted that ingesting asbestos fiber results in pleural mesothelioma, but asbestos can also cause other serious health problems. As it has been clearly shown that the use of asbestos can cause life-threatening illnesses and possible death, legal solutions may be available to those who have developed asbestos-related ailments.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-767.
NavSource Naval History, USS Seymour D. Owens (DD-767).