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USS Stewart (DD-224)

The USS Stewart (DD-224) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the early 20th century, and earned two battle stars for her service in World War II. She was named for Rear Admiral Charles Stewart who served in the Quasi-War with France and in the War of 1812. Stewart was built as a Clemson-class ship.

Construction

Stewart was laid down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company in September 1919, launched in March 1920, and commissioned in September with Lieutenant S.G. Lamb in command. Carrying a crew of 114, Stewart was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Stewart operated with Destroyer Squadron, Atlantic beginning in October 1921, and was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in June 1922. In August, Stewart was deployed to the Philippines and China as part of the Asiatic Fleet. She transported marines to Shanghai in January 1925 during hostilities there, and also protected Americans during a Japanese attack on Shanghai in January 1932. When World War II began in Europe, Stewart patrolled the waters off the Philippines, and escorted naval auxiliaries from the Philippines to Australia when the United States entered the war.

In January 1942, Stewart served as an escort for convoys in the Dutch East Indies, and joined the attack on Japanese forces along the north coast of Sumatra in February. Stewart was attacked by Japanese destroyers, but was able to return to Surabaya, Java the next day, where she was put in floating drydock. She was further damaged in a dock accident while the facility was under enemy attack. Demolition charges from within Stewart and Japanese bombs caused further damage. The drydock was subsequently abandoned.

Stewart was commissioned by the Japanese in September 1943 as Patrol Boat No. 102. The Japanese had raised the former Stewart, assigned her to the Southwest Area Fleet, and rearmed her with two three-inch guns. The former Stewart was assigned to escort duty and, in April 1945, she was bombed by United States Army aircraft in Korea. She was transferred to the Kure Navy District in April, and was found by American occupation forces at Hiro Bay in August.

Stewart was re-commissioned by the U.S. Navy at Kure in October and arrived at San Francisco via tow in March 1946. She was decommissioned in May 1946 and sunk off San Francisco as a target for practicing aircraft.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Stewart (DD-224)

Most compartments on board Stewart were contaminated by materials that contained asbestos. Concentrations of asbestos-containing materials could be found in particular parts of the ship, like the engineering and boiler rooms. Asbestos was used as insulation for boilers, power plants, and engines, to pack pumps and valves, and in gaskets found in shipboard machinery.

Dock and shipyard personnel were also at risk of being exposed to asbestos fibers at dangerous levels. Boilermakers and shipfitters were at particular risk, as was any dock worker who shaped or cut asbestos-bearing panels. Asbestos dust could settle on the clothing of dock workers and result in secondary asbestos exposure for their beloved family members. Scientific researchers have found a powerful correlation between breathing in asbestos fibers and the development of malignant mesothelioma.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-224.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd224txt.htm Retrieved 28 December 2010.

NavSource Naval History, USS Stewart (DD-224).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/224.htm Retrieved 28 December 2010.

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