USS Somers (DD-381) was a Somers-class ship constructed for the US Navy. She was one of six naval vessels named in honor of Richard Somers, an officer in the US Navy killed during an assault on Tripoli during the Barbary Wars.
Somers was constructed in Federal, Kearney. She was commissioned on December 1, 1937.
Following commissioning, Somers was called upon to transport a consignment of gold to New York from the Bank of England. On November 6, 1941, she and cruiser USS Omaha captured German freighter Odenwald, which was disguised as American merchantman Willmoto. Odenwald was carrying 3800 tons of scarce rubber during its capture. Following an extensive court case regarding the capture, each member of the boarding part and the prize crew from Somers received $3,000 for their salvage rights. The other members of Omaha and Somers received two months’ pay and allowances.
Somers participated in the invasions of Normandy and Southern France. In both cases, Somers provided naval gunfire support while also serving as an anti-submarine screen. On August 15, 1944, Somers sank German corvette UJ6081 and sloop SG21 during the Battle of Port Cros along the French Riviera. Somers then provide gunfire support to assist with the invasion. Using her 5 inch shells, she continued to bombard the enemy strongpoints near Toulon for the next two days.
Over the next two months, Somers operated in the Mediterranean Sea. She visited a number of ports at this time, including Ajaccio, France, Corsica, Algeria and Oran. After steaming out of Oran, she arrived in New York and underwent an overhaul at the Brooklyn Navy Yard until November 8. Upon completion of her overhaul, Somers moved to Casco Bay, Maine for training.
On November 23, Somers served as a screen for a convoy bound for Britain. On May 12 of the following year, she returned to the United States and operated along the eastern seaboard for the remainder of the war. In July, Somers completed a summer cruise to the Caribbean to assist with the training of midshipmen before she began an overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina on August 4, 1945.
Following her overhaul, Somers reported to the Commandant, 6th Naval District for decommissioning rather than returning to active duty. Somers was decommissioned on October 28, 1945 and was purchased by Boston Metals of Baltimore, Maryland on May 16, 1947. She was struck from the Navy list on January 28, 1947. Somers earned two battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Somers (DD-381)
Installing asbestos fireproofing in the construction of oceangoing ships was required by the US Congress in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea aboard the SS Morro Castle caused the deaths of more than 100 passengers and crew. Ships like Somers installed asbestos heavily, especially in ship's boilers and engineering compartments, and for fireproofing in the other sections of the vessel.
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Somers. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center.
http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s15/somers-v.htm Retrieved 1 January 2011.