The USS Smalley (DD-565) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly a decade and a half in the mid-20th century and received three battle stars for her service in World War II and one for Korean operations. She was named for Anthony A. Smalley who served as Acting Ensign during the Civil War. Smalley was built as a Fletcher-class destroyer.
Smalley was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in February 1943, launched in October, and commissioned in March 1944 with Commander P.H. Horn in command. Featuring a crew capacity of 273, Smalley was 376 feet, five inches long and armed with five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Smalley arrived at Pearl Harbor on escort duty in June 1944. The Fletcher-class destroyer was deployed to the Aleutian Islands in August, and during this deployment bombarded buildings and gun emplacements on Matsuwa Island. Smalley returned to Hawaii in April 1945 and was then assigned to screen aircraft carrier Ticonderoga for the raid on Taroa Island in May.
In June 1945, Smalley served off Okinawa as a radar picket ship, and also patrolled against enemy submarines and aircraft. Smalley then conducted shore bombardments, air patrol, and reconnaissance missions during the assault on the Japanese home islands following the Okinawa invasion. She returned to the United States in October, and then was decommissioned in January 1947 with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Smalley was re-commissioned in July 1951 when the Korean War began, and conducted training missions before sailing to Korea in May 1953. During this deployment, she operated as a plane guard for Princeton and served with Task Force 77 during the Cherokee strikes in July 1953. Smalley was assigned to various tasks in the region until November, and returned to the United States in January 1954. The destroyer conducted cruises to the Mediterranean from July to November 1955, and then to the Middle East in 1957. Smalley was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in August, struck from the Navy list in April 1965, and sold for scrap to the Portsmouth Salvage Company in January 1966.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Smalley (DD-565)
Whether a sailor worked in the engineering section or in sections without any machinery, he was exposed to asbestos materials while serving aboard Smalley. ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) were found all over the ship, used for thermal insulation and as a component of pumps and valves. Over time clinicians discovered that asbestos was exceptionally dangerous, and asbestos was banned aboard Naval vessels in the 1970s.
Machinists, engineers, and damage control personnel often had the highest level of exposure. Working in proximity to friable asbestos fibers or damaged ship components exposed Smalley's crew and shipyard workers to greater levels of asbestos. Since asbestos exposure is the primary known cause of malignant mesothelioma, there are many legal options for Naval personnel and civilian workers with asbestos-related medical problems.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-565.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd565txt.htm) Retrieved 21 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Smalley (DD-565).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/565.htm) Retrieved 21 January 2011.