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USS Aylwin (FF-1081

The 30th Knox-class frigate to be built in the series of 46 ships, the USS Aylwin was the fourth US Navy vessel to bear the name honoring John Cushing Aylwin (1778-1813)—a US Navy officer who served during the War of 1812. Guided by the motto “Courage Conquers the Impossible,” the USS Aylwin served the US in commission for 20.7 years.


The keel of the USS Aylwin was laid down by Avondale Shipyard (Westwego, Louisiana) on November 13, 1969. Mrs. Charles K. Duncan—wife of the US Navy four star admiral Charles Kenney Duncan—served as the USS Aylwin’s sponsor at a ceremony held on August 29, 1970 to commemorate the vessel’s christening and launch. The Boston Naval Shipyard (Boston, Massachusetts) served as the site of the USS Aylwin’s official commissioning as a destroyer escort (DE) on September 18, 1971. Aylwin was later reclassified as a frigate, along with all the other vessels that comprised her class, in June of 1975.

A complete array of weaponry, including one MK-16 eight-cell missile launcher for antisubmarine rocket (ASROC) and Harpoon missiles, one MK-42 five-inch/54 caliber gun, MK-46 torpedoes from single tube launchers, and one MK-25 basic point defense missile system (BPDMS) launcher for Sea Sparrow missiles (which was later replaced with the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System [CIWS]), provided the USS Aylwin and her crew with a solid system of defense against enemy forces. This vessel, guided by state-of-the-art sonar and radar equipment and propelled by two Combustion Engineering boilers and one Westinghouse geared turbine, was capable of achieving speeds in excess of 27 knots and displaced approximately 4,200 tons (full load). The USS Aylwin was equipped with one aircraft on board—a SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter—to support operational missions calling for tactical support from the air.

Naval History

At the onset of her career, the USS Aylwin was assigned to serve with the US Atlantic Fleet based out of Norfolk, Virginia. Commander Dan E. Fenn was charged with leading the ship’s initial complement of 18 officers and 267 enlisted men and women.

An initial phase of post-commissioning shakedown training and weapons testing prepared the USS Aylwin for her first deployment overseas. Aylwin departed Norfolk on December 1, 1972 en route to the Mediterranean where she carried out a series of antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercises.

The USS Aylwin departed on a second deployment in June of 1974. Traveling to the Mideast and the Indian Ocean, her duties included patrols of the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf.

July of 1976 marked the USS Aylwin’s entrance into the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where she underwent a major overhaul that endured through June of the following year. Upon completion of this overhaul, Aylwin was reassigned to a new homeport of Charleston, South Carolina where she served with Destroyer Squadron 20.

Surveillance operations, local operations, training, inspections, and a restricted availability occupied the USS Aylwin until the time of her next deployment in August of 1979. Traveling to the Mideast, Aylwin participated in exercises with naval forces from France and Oman on separate occasions. The Iranian Hostage Crisis in November called for the USS Aylwin to serve in the Persian Gulf where she performed surveillance and patrol duties prior to her return to the United States on January 7, 1980.

The 1980s proved eventful for the USS Aylwin as she began the decade with a year-long major overhaul followed by sea trials, local operations, and a period of refresher training. Additional deployments to the Mediterranean ensued calling for Aylwin to perform escort duties, ASW exercises, and training evolutions. As the decade progressed, Aylwin endured several maintenance periods and participated in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercises as well as other operational exercises such as Ocean Safari’85 and FLEETEX 2-86. As the 1980s neared an end, the USS Aylwin was reassigned once again to a new homeport. In 1988, Aylwin made her way to Newport, Rhode Island which served as her base of operations for the duration of her time in service.

Decommissioned at Newport, Rhode Island on May 15, 1992, the USS Aylwin was later struck from the US Naval Vessel Register in January of 1995. Aylwin was transferred to Taiwan in April of 1998 where she was eventually commissioned into service under the new name of Ning Yang (FF-938).

Asbestos Risk on the USS Aylwin (FF-1081)

The USS Aylwin, as with the majority of US Navy ships constructed from the 1930s through the 1980s, contained significant amounts of the naturally-occurring mineral asbestos—a major risk factor for the development of several diseases, including mesothelioma.

To date, exposure to asbestos has been scientifically proven to be the only sure cause of mesothelioma—an aggressive and often fatal form of cancer that attacks the inner linings (membranes) of the heart, lungs, and/or abdomen.

Mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose due to the fact that symptoms indicative of illness do not outwardly present themselves until many years (ranging from 15 to 50 years) after the initial exposure took place.

If you or someone you know served on the USS Aylwin and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma please contact us today to request our free mesothelioma treatment guide.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Wikipedia–USS Aylwin (FF-1081)

NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive