The USS William R. Rush (DD-714) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for nearly three and a half decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Captain William R. Rush who served during operations at Veracruz, Mexico in 1914 and during World War I. William R. Rush was a member of the Gearing-class of destroyers.
William R. Rush was laid down at Newark, New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in October 1944, launched in July 1945, and commissioned in September with Commander Theodore E. Vogeley in command. Supporting a crew complement of 336, William R. Rush was 390 feet, six inches long and armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
William R. Rush participated in operations with the 8th Fleet off the east coast until May 1946, and then conducted plane guard duty for aircraft carrier Ranger off Pensacola, Florida. The destroyer reported to Newport, Rhode Island in July and remained on local duty until sailing to Europe in February 1947. William R. Rush then underwent three months of overhaul at Boston and, from May to July 1950, operated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
William R. Rush was deployed to the Pacific and Korean waters in January 1951 and conducted shore bombardments and escort services beginning in February. In June, William R. Rush returned to the United States via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, and resumed fleet activities at Newport, Rhode Island in August. She was then converted into radar picket ship DDR-714 at Boston. William R. Rush returned to service in September 1952 and in 1953 conducted anti-submarine operations, plane-guard duties, and service as an engineering school ship.
From 1954 to 1964, William R. Rush served on eight deployments to the Mediterranean, and was also deployed during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. William R. Rush was reclassified DD-714 after undergoing 10 months of FRAM overhaul at New York, and resumed operations in April 1965. In 1967, she was retrofitted with two Destroyer Antisubmarine Helicopters and then served in the Middle East and the Mediterranean on many occasions. William R. Rush was designated a Naval Reserve training ship from July 1973 until July 1978 when she was decommissioned and transferred to South Korea as Kang Won. She was converted into a museum there in December 2000.
Asbestos Risk on the USS William R. Rush (DD-714)
Because asbestos is highly heat resistant and nearly fireproof, it was used in many heat- and fire-sensitive applications aboard William R. Rush. Engine and boiler rooms contained large quantities of asbestos insulation. Asbestos also shielded turbines, packed pumps, and fireproofed the galley. Asbestos fibers released from these and other applications contaminated most of the ship.
Most veterans of William R. Rush were exposed to asbestos during their service. Inhaling asbestos dust can cause the fibers to lodge in the lungs and surrounding tissues, eventually causing a form of cancer called mesothelioma. This cancer is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure. The link between asbestos and U.S. Navy ships of this era is well established. Most sailors injured by maritime asbestos can take legal action against the companies that manufactured the Navy’s asbestos products.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-714.
NavSource Naval History. USS William R. Rush (DD-714).