The USS Upshur (DD-144) served in the U.S. Navy for over two and a half decades in the early 20th century. She was named for Rear Admiral John Henry Upshur who served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Upshur was built as a Wickes-class ship.
Upshur was laid down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company in February 1918, launched in July, and commissioned in December with Commander William V. Tomb in command. Carrying a crew of 103, Upshur was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, two anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Upshur was deployed to European waters in May 1919, arrived at New York City in July, and was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet in San Diego, California to conduct gunner and torpedo training. In May 1920, Upshur arrived in China and landed personnel to protect an American Mission in June. She operated on the Yangtze River and began target practices and torpedo drills in July, and received commendation from the Secretary of the Navy in establishing radio communications along the river.
Upshur returned to San Diego and was decommissioned in May 1922, placed in reserve, and reactivated in June 1930. She was assigned to the Battle Fleet and Scouting Force on the west coast and the east coast, and placed out of commission in Philadelphia from December 1936 to the fall of 1939. Upshur was reactivated once again to conduct patrols and battle practice in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico as part of the Neutrality Patrol.
In December 1940, Upshur served as an escort for Tuscaloosa that was transporting William D. Leahy, Ambassador to Vichy France, to Lisbon, Portugal, and joined the Support Force in March 1941. During this deployment, Upshur alternated duty in Argentina, Newport, Philadelphia, Boston; and Iceland. Upshur participated in escort operations with the Support Force on seven round trips.
In 1944, Upshur operated between Norfolk and Quonset Point, Rhode Island as a plane guard and target vessel. She was reclassified as miscellaneous auxiliary vessel AG-103 in June 1945, and then decommissioned at Norfolk in November 1946. Upshur was struck from the Navy list in November and sold for scrap to the Northern Metals Company in 1947.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Upshur (DD-144)
Industrial sites started utilizing asbestos-containing materials in the late 19th century. Civilian and naval vessels like Upshur utilized asbestos as insulation for their boilers and heavy equipment. In ship engineering compartments, large amounts of asbestos containing materials were used to protect against the thermal energy generated in them.
The chance of developing mesothelioma increases with the level and frequency of exposure to frayed or damaged asbestos-based insulation. Wear and tear over time created a more dangerous asbestos threat because asbestos-containing materials easily became friable (frayed) and the individual airborne fibers could be breathed in. One of the worst jobs in terms of exposure to asbestos was repair of engineering equipment. Legal recourse may be available for veterans who have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and other ailments caused by asbestos exposure. Please fill out the form on this page to receive more information.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-144.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd144txt.htm) Retrieved 23 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS Upshur (DD-144).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/144.htm) Retrieved 23 December 2010.