The USS Somers (DD-947) remained on the Navy list for nearly three decades in the mid-to-late-20th century. She was named for Richard Somers who served in the Quasi-War with France as well as the Tripolitan War. Somers was designed to Forrest Sherman class destroyer specifications.
Somers was laid down at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works Corporation in December 1957, launched in May 1958, and commissioned in April 1959 with Commander Edward J. Cummings, Jr., in command. Carrying a crew of 324, Somers was 418 feet, six inches long and armed with four 21-inch torpedo tubes, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, four three-inch rapid fire guns, and two anti-submarine mortars. The destroyer was driven by geared turbines, supporting a cruising speed of 33 knots, and she had a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 20 knots.
Somers sailed to Newfoundland and northern Europe on her maiden voyage in June 1959 and arrived at San Diego in late July. She completed training in mid-September and over the next few years alternated between west coast operations and deployments with the 7th Fleet. Somers operated in the western Pacific in 1961 and 1963, as well as in 1965 for service off Vietnam. The destroyer returned from this deployment to San Diego Naval Shipyard in August 1965.
Somers underwent conversion to a Decatur-class guided missile destroyer at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard beginning in April 1966, and wasn’t re-commissioned until February 1968 at Hunter’s Point. During this time, a surface-to-air missile system and anti-submarine rocket system were installed, and Somers was reclassified as DDG-34. Somers sailed for Long Beach in May 1968 and was deployed to the western Pacific in November 1969, during which she operated in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Somers participated in naval reserve training in 1970 and was once again deployed to the Far East from December 1970 to May 1971. She conducted another Vietnamese tour in 1972, which involved aircraft carrier operations and gunfire support in the Gulf of Tonkin, and returned to the western Pacific in 1973 and 1974. Somers was decommissioned in November 1982, struck from the Navy list in April 1988, and sunk during training exercises in 1998.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Somers (DD-947)
Serving on Somers meant certain exposure to asbestos. The mineral was found in nearly every compartment, as it was used to insulate and fireproof many ship systems. Boilermen, boiler tenders, firemen, engineers and mechanics were exposed to the highest levels of asbestos, as were shipyard workers. When breathed in, asbestos fiber damages the mesothelium and may cause malignant mesothelioma.
Legal options are often available to those with asbestos-related conditions. We have created an extensive mesothelioma information kit to help you in understanding these options. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, just take a moment to fill in the request form on this web page and it will be sent right to your door, free of charge.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-947.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd947txt.htm) Retrieved 26 February 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Somers (DD-947).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/947.htm) Retrieved 26 February 2011.