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USS Tingey (DD-539)

The USS Tingey (DD-539) served in the U.S. Navy for over two decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Commodore Thomas Tingey who served in the Revolutionary War. Tingey was laid down as a Fletcher-class destroyer.

Construction

Tingey was laid down at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in October 1942, launched in May 1943, and commissioned in November with Commander John Odgers Miner in command. With a crew compliment of 273, Tingey was 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.

Naval History

Tingey conducted fleet exercises at Pearl Harbor in February 1944 and, in March, screened a convoy to the Marshall Islands. In April, the destroyer served with aircraft carriers during strikes on the Truk Islands, and bombarded Tumu Point to eliminate Japanese air and submarine operations there. Tingey served in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in May and then operated with the 6th Fleet to support the invasion of the Marianas in July, which she also supported for strikes on Palaus and Guam.

Tingey was assigned to duty with carriers in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and sank Japanese destroyer Nowaki in October. In December, Tingey survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers in the Philippines, and served during strikes on Formosa and Luzon, on Hong Kong in January 1945, Tokyo Bay, as well as on Okinawa in March. Tingey continued to protect aircraft carriers at Okinawa in April and May, and arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard in July. She was decommissioned in March 1946.

Tingey was reactivated in January 1951 and deployed for duty during the Korean War. From August to December, Tingey served off the east coast of Korea in support of United Nations troops and to conduct bombardment patrols. Tingey spent the first half of 1952 at San Diego Naval Shipyard, and then returned to Korea for anti-submarine duty and night patrols, and returned to San Diego in February 1953.

Between November 1953 and 1957, Tingey alternated between service in California and duty in the western Pacific. The destroyer operated as a naval reserve training vessel until 1962. In August 1963, she collided with Vammen off California with severe damage, and was decommissioned in November 1963. Tingey was sunk off San Francisco in May 1966.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Tingey (DD-539)

Ships built in the 1940’s were heavily laden with asbestos products. The fibrous mineral was resistant to heat and fire. It was also corrosion-proof. Those properties, combined with its low cost, durability, and versatility, made it ideal for maritime applications. It was later discovered that exposure to asbestos was extremely dangerous. Breathing air contaminated with asbestos dust can cause mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. The abundance of asbestos employed by the U.S. Navy lead to many veterans sailors becoming ill.

Tingey contained asbestos products in nearly every area. Engineering sections used asbestos insulation and fireproofing in boilers, engines, and turbines. Steam conduits were often wrapped in asbestos pipe insulation. Such pipes ran the full length of the vessel. As asbestos was often added to paints, cements, and adhesives, no area of this ship could be guaranteed safe from the mineral. No safe level of asbestos exposure has ever been established.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-539.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd539txt.htm) Retrieved 19 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History, USS Tingey (DD-539).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/539.htm) Retrieved 19 January 2011.

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