The USS Soley (DD-707) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for James R. Soley, a scholar and staff member of the Naval Academy and later Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Soley was a member of the Allen M. Sumner class of naval destroyers.
Soley was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in April 1944, launched in September, and commissioned in December with Commander John S. Lewis in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, Soley was 376 feet, six inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Soley was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in February 1945 at Norfolk, Virginia, where she served as a training vessel, and then was deployed to the west coast in August. The destroyer arrived at Pearl Harbor later in the month and then served in the Marshall Islands. Soley was stationed at Kusaic Island for the Japanese surrender and operated as a station ship there until the middle of October. From then until mid-December, Soley reported to Commander of the Marshall-Gilbert Islands Area and transported Japanese prisoners to Kwajalein for possible war crimes trials.
Soley served with occupation forces thereafter and then reported home in February 1946. She conducted training exercises off Cuba and was stationed with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina from April 1947 until January 1949. Following overhaul, Soley was based at Norfolk, Virginia and commenced east coast operations until being deployed to the Mediterranean, during which she represented the United States at the funeral of Sweden’s King Gustaf V in November.
Soley served in the Korean warzone from June to July 1952, and conducted anti-submarine duty, shore bombardments, and prisoners and refugee transport. Soley sailed for the United States in October, via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, and then operated in the Caribbean from January through April 1953. After returning to Norfolk, Soley sailed around the world for a second time, and served on several Mediterranean deployments until she commenced naval reserve training in March 1964. Soley was decommissioned in February 1970 and sunk as a training target in September.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Soley (DD-707)
Soley utilized asbestos products as insulation for many engineering applications: in gaskets, in pumps and valves, and to protect engine components. It was also used as an insulator for steam pipes and boilers, and to fireproof the galley and other ship areas. Because of its many applications, asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were found in virtually every corridor and compartment.
The incidence of mesothelioma is strongly correlated to asbestos exposure. Greater levels of exposure and longer durations spent exposed increase the risk for asbestos cancer. Boilermen, machinists, firemen and others who worked with heavy equipment received the highest levels of exposure, though all of Soley’s crew had some exposure risk. Since exposure to asbestos fibers is the only cause for mesothelioma, there are usually legal options for victims of the disease.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-707.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd707txt.htm) Retrieved 8 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Soley (DD-707).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/707.htm) Retrieved 8 February 2011.