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USS Harold E. Holt (FF-1074)

The USS Harold E. Holt was named in honor of the Australian Prime Minister Harold Edward Holt (1908-1967) who was an ardent supporter of the United States and her interests. Bearing the motto “Happy Harry,” the USS Harold E. Holt was originally laid down as a destroyer escort (DE) prior to her reclassification as a frigate (FF) on June 30, 1975. This vessel was the 23rd of 46 to be constructed in the Knox-class series of US Navy vessels and served the United States for 21.3 years.


The keel of the USS Harold E. Holt was laid down on May 11, 1968 by Todd Pacific Shipyards, Los Angeles Division (San Pedro, California). Launched on May 3, 1969, this vessel was later commissioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on March 26, 1971. Harold E. Holt’s complement of 18 officers and 267 enlisted men and women was initially led by Commander John P. Leahy.

The 438-foot USS Harold E. Holt was powered by two Combustion Engineering boilers and one Westinghouse geared turbine that allowed her to reach speeds in excess of 27 knots. Displacing approximately 4,200 tons (full load), this US Navy vessel housed one aircraft—a SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter—on board for use in special operations requiring air support. The USS Harold E. Holt was equipped with a full range of defense mechanisms that included 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).

Naval History

The USS Harold E. Holt was called to active duty earlier than anticipated when she was deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin to support US efforts in the wake of the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive. Throughout the course of this deployment (which commenced in the spring of 1972 and concluded in November of that same year), the USS Harold E. Holt served on Positive Identification RADAR Advisory Zone (PIRAX) duty and provided gunfire support. The USS Harold E. Holt received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for her efforts during this deployment.

May 15, 1975 was a historical moment in the history of the USS Harold E. Holt as she and crew participated in the first hostile boarding of another ship by the US Navy since the year 1826. Referred to as the Mayaguez Incident, the USS Harold E. Holt pulled alongside the SS Mayaguez—an American container ship that had been seized by Cambodian forces—and successfully recaptured this ship with the assistance of other Navy and Marine units. The Mayaguez Incident is cited as the last official battle of the Vietnam War.

As the USS Harold E. Holt’s career progressed, she conducted a series of shellback initiations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as a regular schedule of deployments to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Persian Gulf. Her last official deployment took place from March through September of 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm—a war against Iraq launched by a US-led coalition force comprised of 34 nations in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

The USS Harold E. Holt was officially decommissioned at Naval Station Pearl Harbor on July 2, 1992. She was later struck from the US Naval Vessel Register on January 11, 1995. The USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964) sunk the USS Harold E. Holt on July 10, 2002 during fleet training exercises held off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii as part of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2002.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Harold E. Holt (FF-1074)

Asbestos exposure is the root cause of several diseases—asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and gastrointestinal cancer—that result in nearly 10,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. In addition to these mortality rates, there are numerous other cases of individuals who are experiencing nonfatal illnesses that are directly linked to prior asbestos exposure. These illnesses are debilitating and can severely impact overall quality of life.

Asbestos was employed to a wide extent aboard US Navy vessels from as early as the 1930s through the 1980s. The ability of asbestos to withstand extreme temperatures and resist fire were attributes that allowed it to rise to the top as the material of choice for use aboard seafaring vessels where the outbreak of fire was a paramount concern. As the years progressed, however, the dangers of asbestos began to become evident and people began to realize that its risks far outweighed its benefits.

Asbestos-related illnesses are often difficult to identify due to their extended latency periods—ranging from 20 to 50 years—and the generality of their symptoms that often mimic those of other common ailments. If you were employed by the US Navy and have developed mesothelioma, please contact us for a free informational packet that outlines what options are available to asbestos victims from both a medical and legal perspective.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Wikipedia–USS Harold E. Holt (FF-1074)

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