The USS Wiley (DD-597) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II and remained on the Navy list until the late 1960s. She was named for William Wiley, a Navy sailor who served in the First Barbary War. Wiley was laid down as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Wiley was laid down by the Puget Sound Navy Yard in August 1943, launched in September 1944, and commissioned in February 1945 with Commander B.P. Field, Jr., in command. Supporting a crew complement of 273, Wiley was 376 feet, five inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch anti-aircraft guns, four 1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns, and four 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. Wiley had a displacement of 2,924 tons and was driven by Allis Chalmers turbines supporting a cruising speed of 38 knots and a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Wiley operated out of San Diego and Puget Sound before sailing to the Hawaiian Islands in May. Participating in training exercises at Oahu until mid-June, Wiley was then deployed on escort duty to the Philippines. Wiley took part in training exercises there until August when the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II in the Pacific.
Wiley began service with the North China Force after World War II ended, during which Chinese communist and Nationalist forces battled over control of Chinese northern provinces after the Japanese left. She served at such ports as Dairen, Port Arthur, Chefoo, Chinwangtao, and Tsingtao. During this deployment, Wiley destroyed Japanese mines and protected vessels of Cruiser Division 6. Wiley also protected peacekeeping troops during landings at Jinsen, Korea, and then commenced operations at the Gulf of Po Hai in October. She conducted plane guard duty and protected Antietam and Boxer during this deployment as well.
Wiley operated between Jinsen and Chinese ports with passengers and mail through November and returned to the United States in January 1946. The destroyer was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego Naval Shipyard in May, struck from the Navy list in May 1968, and sold for scrap to the National Metal and Steel Company in April 1970.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Wiley (DD-597)
Asbestos was used in a wide variety of applications on Wiley. Her engines and turbines produced considerable heat that was shielded with asbestos insulation. The boilers on board were lined with asbestos, as were steam conduits running throughout the vessel. Fire safety rules required asbestos fireproofing in many compartments. The many asbestos products installed aboard Wiley created a dangerous work environment for her crew.
Exposure to asbestos has been shown to lead to mesothelioma cancer. Service in the armed forces, and particularly in the U.S. Navy, has been conclusively linked to an increased risk for exposure. Veteran sailors diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases are often eligible for compensation from the companies that produced the asbestos products used aboard their ships.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-597.
NavSource Naval History. USS Wiley (DD-597).