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USS Strong (DD-758)

The USS Strong (DD-758) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately three decades during the middle of the 20th century. She was named for James H. Strong, a U.S. Navy officer during the 19th century. Strongwas built as an Allen M. Sumner-class ship.

Construction

Strongwas laid down in San Francisco, California by Bethlehem Steel in July 1943. She was launched in April 1944 and commissioned in March 1945, with Commander Frederick C.M. Howe at the helm. Strong carried a crew of 336 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Naval History

Strong began her service in the Pacific in June 1945, where she escorted convoys between the Marshall and Caroline Islands, screened submarines in the Ryukyu Islands, and patrolled air-sea rescue stations in Japanese waters. She left the Pacific in December 1945.

She was placed on reserve in May 1947, but was recommissioned quickly in 1949. In 1950, she sailed to the Mediterranean, and in 1952, she headed for Korea. There, she participated in attacks against hydroelectric plants on the Yalu River and supported the UN blockade and escort group.

Strong returned to the U.S. in December 1952. During the remainder of the 1950s, she operated along the east coast, completed an around-the-world cruise, and participated in the recovery of the capsule from NASA’s Project Mercury near Puerto Rico.

During the 1960s, Strong received a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) overhaul and operated in the North Atlantic before being sent to Vietnam in 1968. There, she was part of operation Sea Dragon, sank as many as 20 enemy sampans, and provided gunfire support along the coast. She returned to the U.S. later that year.

Strong’s final years of service included supporting the NATO Silver Tower exercise in the Norwegian Sea, routine peacetime training along the east coast, and operation as a reserve training vessel. She was decommissioned in 1973 and later transferred to Brazil, where she was renamed Rio Grande De Norte. In 1997, she was being towed from Brazil to India to be scrapped when high seas off the coast of Durban, South Africa overtook her and she sank.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Strong (DD-758)

Significant changes in factories and industry in the 1800s resulted in the proliferation of heavy equipment like boilers and steam engines which required the use of asbestos insulation. Asbestos based fireproofing products have been installed on board both merchant and naval craft such as Strong ever since the 1930s. Since asbestos is a very efficient insulating material, it was used to insulate the parts on board that generated heat such as pumps and engines, and was used for packing in valves and pumps.

Increased exposure to asbestos-containing material, particularly broken or brittle asbestos, raises a person's risk of being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos damaged in combat posed particular risk as the material was friable, which means the fibers began to separate from the insulation and enter the air. Working in proximity to friable asbestos fibers or battle-damaged insulation exposed Strong's sailors and yard workers to much higher levels of asbestos than the levels normally encountered on a routine basis. Engineers, machinists, boilermen, boilermakers, and shipfitters were all at enhanced risk of asbestos exposure. As it has been clearly shown that asbestos exposure can result in the development of serious diseases and possible death, legal recourse may be available to those affected.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-758.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd758txt.htm Retrieved 12 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS Strong (DD-758).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/758.htm Retrieved 12 February 2011.

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