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USS Sigourney (DD-643)

The USS Sigourney (DD-643) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for midshipman James Butler Sigourney who served in the War of 1812. Sigourney was commissioned as a Fletcher-class naval vessel.

Construction

Sigourney was laid down at Bath, Maine by Bath Iron Works in December 1942, launched in April 1943, and commissioned in June with Commander W.L. Dyer in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Sigourney was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.

Naval History

Sigourney arrived on the west coast in October 1943 following training off Maine and Bermuda, and sailed for Pearl Harbor. The destroyer then reported to the Solomon Islands for the invasion of Cape Torokina in November. While operating at Empress August Bay later in the Month, Sigourney rescued survivors when high-speed transport McKean was struck by a torpedo. Sigourney conducted anti-submarine patrols and barge hunts in the area until May 1944, and then escorted ships between Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein. Following bombardment and anti-submarine duties at Saipan and Tinan, Sigourney supported the attacks on Peleliu in September.

In October, Sigourney provided fire support for troops at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and returned there in November for screening and radar picket duties. Sigourney also protected aircraft carriers during the invasion of Mindoro in December, and then supported the invasion of Luzon Island in January 1945. Also operating during the troop landings at Palawan Island in February and assaults at Mindanao in April, Sigourney returned to the west coast for overhaul. Sigourney remained at San Pedro, California until September and was then transferred to Charleston, South Carolina, where she was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in March 1946.

Sigourney was re-commissioned in September 1951, overhauled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and conducted a seven month tour of the Far East and a cruise around the world in 1953. The destroyer was deployed on cruises to Europe in 1955, 1956, and 1958. In January 1959, Sigourney was based at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and assigned to the Reserve Training Fleet. She was decommissioned in May 1960, struck from the Navy list in December 1974, and sold for scrap to Boston Metals Corporation in July 1975.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Sigourney (DD-643)

The U.S. Navy employed asbestos widely up until around 1979 as a heat and electrical insulator as well as for fireproofing on board all its vessels. Sigourney used ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) in nearly every compartment, and as packing for pumps and valves. This heavy used exposed numerous personnel to a higher-than-normal risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.

An exposed crewman's probability of developing an asbestos disease goes up significantly if his work involved frequent contact with frayed or damaged asbestos products. Such products are called “friable,” and easily release clouds of asbestos fibers into the air. Inhaling these fibers is known to lead to pleural mesothelioma and asbestosis. Veterans of Sigourney that were diagnosed with asbestos-related conditions can be compensated for their injury. A mesothelioma law firm can explain your legal rights.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-643.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd643txt.htm) Retrieved 31 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Sigourney (DD-643).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/643.htm) Retrieved 31 January 2011.

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