The USS Waller (DD-466) served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Major General Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller who served in the Spanish-American War. Waller was built as a Fletcher-class ship.
Waller was laid down at Kearny, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in February 1942, launched in August, and commissioned in October with Lieutenant Commander Lawrence H. Frost in command. Carrying a crew of 273, Waller 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.
Waller operated out of Casco Bay, Maine and New London, Connecticut throughout the fall of 1942, and then sailed to Pearl Harbor at the end of November. In January 1943, Waller served with Task Force 18 out of Efate and rendezvoused with the transport force off Guadalcanal. Waller and her accompanying group engaged Japanese bombers during the Battle of Rennell Island, and rescued 1,049 survivors from Chicago.
Waller served in the Solomon Islands into 1944, engaging in several nighttime battles with Japanese forces. She guarded Woodworth and Gwin during rescue efforts for the crew of Helena in July, and escorted troop and supply convoys in the Solomons. In August, Waller served during the troop landings at Vella Lavella and fired at Japanese dive bombers. She collided with Philip during similar action a few days later. Once repaired, Waller returned to action and destroyed several Japanese troop barges in October.
Waller also served during operations at Bougainville, and the participated in the attack on the Marianas Islands in June. She also served as a screening vessel when American forces returned to Guam in 1944. In November, Waller joined the 7th Fleet and commenced operations in the Philippines, and rejoined the 3rd Fleet in August to prepare for the invasion of Japan before it surrendered.
During operations at Shanghai, China in September, Waller encountered a mine and was dry docked for repairs, and subsequently supervised minesweeping operations in the area. Waller returned to the United States in December and was re-designated DDE-466 in March 1949, as flagship of Escort Destroyer Squadron 2 during the Korean War. Between 1951 and 1956, Waller alternated between fleet exercises off the east coast and deployments to the Mediterranean, and also served during the Vietnam War. She was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in July 1969 and sunk as a target in February 1970.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Waller (DD-466)
Since asbestos products were widely spread throughout Waller, nearly every member of the crew suffered exposure to the mineral. Sailors working in repair crews were more likely to be heavily exposed, as damaged asbestos products often shed dangerous asbestos dust. Also at high risk were engineers, electricians, and welders. Those jobs required frequent exposure to boilers, engines, pumps, and wires containing asbestos.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Even sailors that served in non-mechanical roles have suffered asbestos-related ailments resulting from their service. If you or a loved one served aboard the USS Waller and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can seek compensation for your injury. Complete the form on this page for a free mesothelioma information packet that explains the disease and your legal rights.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-466.
NavSource Naval History, USS Waller (DD-466).