The USS Vesole (DD-878) served in the U.S. Navy for over three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Ensign Kay Kopl Vesole who served in the Second World War. Vesole was built as a Gearing-class destroyer.
Vesole was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in July 1944, launched in December, and commissioned in April 1945 with Commander Harry E. Townsend in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Vesole had a displacement of 3,460 tons and was armed with six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Vesole completed her initial training off Cuba and was then converted to a radar picket destroyer at Norfolk, Virginia. In July 1945, Vesole conducted further training along the east coast, and reported to the Pacific Fleet in August. During this deployment, Vesole called at various Japanese ports and sailed between Japan and the Mariana Islands. Vesole visited Okinawa and Hong Kong in 1946 and arrived at San Diego in December.
Vesole sailed to the east coast in January 1947 and underwent an overhaul at the New York Naval Shipyard. She operated out of Newport, Rhode Island until sailing to Europe from September 1947 to February 1948. Vesole alternated east coast and Mediterranean operations until 1952, when she had six three-inch rapid fire guns installed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, as well as new radar and communications equipment.
In 1958, Vesole served during the crisis in Lebanon, and also served during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Vesole then settled into a routine of east coast training and deployments to the Mediterranean. The destroyer spent much of 1964 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for FRAM overhaul and then changed home ports to Newport in October. Vesole conducted anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic until deployed to Vietnam in late 1965.
Vesole returned to Newport in April 1966, by way of the Mediterranean Sea, and then conducted three deployments to the Middle East and one with NATO forces in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. A four-month overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina followed in 1972, and Vesole returned to the Mediterranean three more times and also conducted exercises with navies in South America. Vesole was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in December 1976, and then sunk during a training exercise off Puerto Rico in April 1983.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Vesole (DD-878)
Most crewmen stationed on or repairing Vesole were exposed to asbestos. Sailors maintaining heavy machinery had a greater degree of exposure, as did crewmen serving in damage control crews. Navy veterans experience asbestos-related illnesses more often than veterans of the other armed services.
The frequent overhauls and refits on Vesole may have increased the asbestos risk on this vessel. When asbestos parts were removed and replaced, they often left behind asbestos dust. Crewmen performing the maintenance easily inhaled those individual asbestos fibers.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-878.
NavSource Naval History. Vesole (DD-878).