The USS Tucker (DD-374) served in the U.S. Navy for six years during the first half of the 20th century. She was named for Samuel Tucker, who served with the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War. Tucker was built as a Mahan-class destroyer.
Tucker was laid down in Norfolk, Virginia at the Norfolk Navy Yard in August 1934. She was launched in February 1936 and commissioned in July of the same year, with Lieutenant Commander George T. Howard at the helm. Tucker carried a crew of 158 and had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots. She was armed with five five-inch anti-aircraft guns, four half-inch machine guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following her shakedown voyage, Tucker was sent to San Diego. There, she joined operations with the Battle Fleet along the west coast. As tensions in the Pacific mounted, she and her fleet were sent to Hawaiian waters.
During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Tucker was moored in East Loch, along with several other ships (Whitney, Selfridge, Case, Reid, and Conyngham). This group of ships avoided direct damage, and were able to use their weaponry to bring down two enemy planes during the attack. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tucker spent several months on convoy duty.
In August 1942, Tucker was stationed at Suva, where she was charged with escorting another ship to Espiritu Santo. While navigating the Bruat Channel, Tucker struck a mine. The explosion was direct and substantial, and the ship very nearly folded in half. Three men were killed in the explosion, but the accompanying ship was able to send rescue boats for the remaining seamen.
The following morning, a tow ship arrived to pull the downed Tucker to shallower waters in order to salvage materials, but efforts to beach the ship were unsuccessful. On August 4, 1942, Tucker sank. Ironically, the mine which damaged her had been laid by U.S. forces only days before, and the minefield was so new that information about its existence had not yet been transmitted to Tucker’s commander.
Tucker was officially struck from the Navy list in December 1944, having received one battle star for her service.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Tucker (DD-374)
Many areas of USS Tucker were contaminated with asbestos-containing materials. However, some areas used asbestos more heavily than others. The engine and boiler rooms of Tucker deployed asbestos widely as insulation for pipes, to line ship’s boilers, and to insulate parts of the ship’s engines or turbines. Other areas of the ship also contained asbestos, particularly mess halls and kitchens, bunk rooms, fuel storage areas, ammunition lockers, and any compartment containing machinery. Even areas with no particular mechanical function contained asbestos, as the fiber was widely used in cements, caulks, glues, gaskets, and valves. Steam pipes wrapped with asbestos insulation ran into practically every compartment of the ship.
Virtually everyone serving or working on the Tucker was likely to have been exposed to asbestos to one degree or another. Certain jobs entailed a higher degree of exposure, however: crewmen serving in the engine room, as machinists, as firefighters, or in damage control parties were more likely to inhale asbestos fibers. Dockyard and shipyard workers, whether building a new ship or refitting or repairing an existing vessel, were also extensively exposed to asbestos at high levels. The family members of dock and shipyard workers may have also been exposed to asbestos, through contamination of the clothes worn by the workers and brought home at the end of the day.
Asbestos exposure is a direct cause of mesothelioma. If you believe that you were exposed to asbestos while serving on the USS Tucker and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, please fill out the form on this page to request more information about the disease and to learn about your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-374.
NavSource Naval History, USS Tucker (DD-374). http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/374.htm