The USS Wren (DD-568) was commissioned by the U.S. Navy for nearly two decades in the mid-20th century. She was named for Sergeant Solomon Wren, a member of the United States Marine Corps in the early 1800s who participated in an expedition to Tripoli. Wren was laid down as a Fletcher-class vessel.
Wren was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation in April 1943, launched in January 1944, and commissioned in May with Commander Edwin A. McDonald in command. Carrying a crew of 273 in a 376 foot five inch long structure, Wren 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.
Wren was assigned to the Northern Pacific Force in August 1944 at the Aleutian Islands following training out of San Diego. During this deployment, Wren served patrol and escort duty, and also participated in assault missions on the Japanese Kuril Islands from November 1944 to April 1945, which included the islands of Matsuwa and Paramushiro. In April, Wren passed through Hawaii and remained at Ulithi Atoll until mid-May, when she joined operations at Okinawa . Wren also served in the Ryukyus as an anti-submarine patrol and radar picket to watch for enemy aircraft.
Wren joined Task Force 38 in July for aircraft carrier based attacks on Japan, and then operated at Tokyo Bay in late August while the occupation of Japan was beginning. The destroyer returned to the United States in December, first at San Diego and then the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Wren was decommissioned at Charleston, South Carolina in July 1946, where she was re-commissioned in September 1951. Wren served off the east coast until being deployed to the Far East in August 1953 with Destroyer Division 61. During this deployment, Wren guarded aircraft carriers off Japan and then conducted surveillance missions off Korea in 1954.
In February, Wren made a round-the-world trip back to Norfolk, Virginia, where she arrived in April, and then alternated between duty at Norfolk and deployments to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean. Wren was decommissioned in December 1963, struck from the Navy list in December 1974, and sold for scrap to North American Smelting in October 1975.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Wren (DD-568)
Asbestos is a very efficient insulator. It was used to insulate many systems and compartments on Wren, especially those that produced enormous heat, like engines and boilers. It was also commonly found in valves and pumps as a packing material, and was commonly used to make the gaskets inside machinery.
Most everyone that served on, built, or maintained Wren was exposed to asbestos. Because regular exposure to the mineral is more dangerous, sailors performing maintenance tasks generally had greater risk. Electricians, welders, and machinists’ mates were more likely to develop mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases than their peers performing less hazardous duties. Unfortunately, any exposure can lead to illness, and no shipboard assignment was guaranteed safe.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-568.
NavSource Naval History. USS Wren (DD-568).