The USS Sproston (DD-577) served in the U.S. Navy for two and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Lieutenant John G. Sproston who served in the Civil War. Sproston was commissioned as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Sproston was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in April 1942, launched in August, and commissioned in May 1943 with Commander Fred R. Stickney in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Sproston 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.
Sproston arrived at Pearl Harbor in November 1943 and sailed for the Aleutian Islands later in the month, assigned to Destroyer Squadron 49. During this deployment, Sproston engaged in battle practice and fleet exercises, and in February 1944, bombarded Kurabu Point on Paramushiro Island. Sproston continued to strike targets in the Kurils in March, until the mission was aborted due to poor weather. The destroyer then commenced anti-submarine sweeps and patrols in the Aleutian Islands until June, when she participated in the bombardment of Matsuwa Island.
Sproston was deployed to the South Pacific out of San Francisco in August and, in October, was assigned to screening transports off Leyte Island in the Philippines. In late December 1944 and early January 1945, Sproston conducted patrols off central Luzon, and then supported troop landings at Zambales. Sproston then operated in Subic Bay and was assigned to escort duty in February, when she was deployed to Guam and then Leyte Gulf in March.
While operating in the Ryukyu Islands in April, Sproston endured a near miss from a bomb, but her sonar and main battery computer were damaged. Sproston was then repaired at Guam and returned to duty in May, and while sailing between Saipan and Eniwetok in June, spotted an enemy submarine and commenced an attack, sinking the vessel with depth charges.
Sproston was out of commission from January 1946 until being re-commissioned in September 1950. Following reactivation, Sproston was deployed several times to the Far East with the 7th Fleet on the Taiwan Patrol, and also conducted rescue and anti-submarine duties off Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. Sproston was decommissioned in September 1968, struck from the Navy list in October, and sold for scrap in December 1971.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Sproston (DD-577)
Since asbestos was so versatile, the dangerous fibers could be found nearly everywhere aboard Sproston. Personnel who worked regularly with pumps, valves, and gaskets faced a greater exposure risk, as did engineers, mechanics, and boilermen. No sailor that served on this ship was completely safe from exposure. Service in the U.S. Navy during the time that Sproston sailed is a significant risk factor for mesothelioma cancer.
Wartime damage increased the amount of friable asbestos aboard Sproston. Friable asbestos products release clouds of tiny fibers into the air when handled or otherwise disturbed. Airborne asbestos fibers posed a much greater threat to sailors, as they were nearly invisible and easily inhaled. The crewmen responsible for damage control wore little or no protective gear when handling this friable asbestos.
There are legal options available for Navy veterans with asbestos-related illnesses. Many of the companies that produced asbestos products have established trusts to compensate those that their products injured. You can learn more about your rights by requesting our free mesothelioma information kit. Just complete the form on this page to receive yours.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-577.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd577txt.htm) Retrieved 24 January 2011.
NavSource Naval History. USS Sproston (DD-577).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/577.htm) Retrieved 24 January 2011.