Resources for Patients and their Families

USS Thorn (DD-988)

The USS Thorn (DD-988) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly two and a half decades in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She was named for Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn who served in the Tripolitan War and as the first commandant of the New York Navy Yard. Thorn was built as a Spruance-class naval vessel.


Thorn was laid down at Pascagoula, Mississippi by the Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in August 1977, launched in November 1978, and commissioned in February 1980 with Commander Charles Alan Sellgren in command. Carrying a crew of 296, Thorn was 563 feet in length with a total displacement of 7,800 tons, and had four gas turbines and two screws that supported a cruising speed of 30 knots. Thorn was armed with two five-inch rapid fire guns, a surface-to-air missile system, an anti-submarine rocket launcher, six 12.75-inch anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and one helicopter.

Naval History

Thorn was assigned to duty in the Atlantic, and visited Livourne, Italy during a deployment to the Mediterranean in 1981. In 1984, Thorn participated in UNITAS XXV at the Naval Air Station at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Thorn visited Portsmouth, England in June 1986 and returned to Italy with a visit to Genoa in November 1987. The destroyer was overhauled at the site of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation in 1994.

Thorn returned to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in September 1997, following a six-month deployment in the Arabian Gulf where she participated in the enforcement of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. During this deployment, the destroyer also took part in exercises with the naval forces of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and England. Thorn was awarded four Command Excellence Awards in 1998, and then began utilizing digital imagery for onboard maintenance as well as computer systems to share support and fleet information.

Thorn served with the Enterprise Battle Group in 1999 and operated as the flagship for Commander, Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean. The destroyer then aided environmental causes in July 2001 during a mission to rescue entangled sea turtles. A six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea followed, where Thorn returned to the Mediterranean with Cole and Gonzalez. Thorn returned to Norfolk in May 2004, was decommissioned in August, and sunk as a training target off the east coast in July 2006.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Thorn (DD-988)

Even though Thorn was laid down near the end of the asbestos era, the lack of suitable replacement materials meant that the ship still contained many asbestos products. While the risk of exposure on this vessel was less than on ships built even just a few years earlier, veterans of the Thorn must exercise caution. Asbestos diseases often have a decades-long latency period, which mans sailors that served on this ship may yet be diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease.

We have created an informative guide on asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, treatment options, and your legal rights. You can request this free information kit by completing the form on this page. Because the law limits the time you have to pursue legal options, it is important to get started right away.



NavSource Naval History. USS Thorn (DD-988). Retrieved 5 March 2011. USS Thorn (DD-988). Retrieved 5 March 2011.

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