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USS Joseph Hewes (FF-1078)

The 27th Knox-class frigate to be constructed, the USS Joseph Hewes honored the memory of Joseph Hewes (1730-1779)—a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Secretary of the Naval Affairs Committee. John Adams was noted as crediting Hewes with laying the foundation of the US Navy. Originally serving as a destroyer escort (DE) with the primary task of ocean escort duties, the USS Joseph Hewes was later reclassified as a frigate (FF) in June of 1975 at which time she was assigned to take on a role supporting antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations. The USS Joseph Hewes served the US in commission for over 23 years.

Construction

Ordered by the US Navy on August 25, 1966, the USS Joseph Hewes was laid down by Avondale Shipyard (Westwego, Louisiana) on May 14, 1969. Launched and christened during a ceremony held on March 7, 1970, the USS Joseph Hewes was officially commissioned into service at the Boston Naval Shipyard (Boston, Massachusetts) just over a year later on April 24, 1971. The ship’s crew, which was comprised of 285 officers and enlisted men and women, was initially led by Commander Robert E. Klee.

Armed with a solid line of defense mechanisms (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]), guided by state of the art radar and sonar systems (AN/SPS-40 air search radar, AN/SPS-67 surface search radar, AN/SQS-26 sonar, and AN/SQR-18 towed array sonar), and outfitted with an aircraft (SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter) for additional support measures as needed, the USS Joseph Hewes was well-equipped to carry out her deployments. This vessel measured 438 feet in length, displaced approximately 4,200 tons (full load), and was powered by two Combustion Engineering boilers and one Westinghouse geared turbine that allowed her to achieve speeds in excess of 27 knots.

Naval History

Newport, Rhode Island served as the USS Joseph Hewes first homeport. Departing from this location, the USS Joseph Hewes set sail for a deployment to the Western Pacific in June of 1972 where she served in the role of gunfire support in the waters off the coast of Vietnam. En route back to the US in December of that same year, the Joseph Hewes followed a course that allowed her to complete a circumnavigation of the globe.

The USS Joseph Hewes was occupied with a full schedule of deployments for the entire decade of the 1970s. Throughout this span of time she traveled to the Western Pacific (June-December 1972), the Mediterranean (September 1973-January 1974), the Indian Ocean (January-June 1975), Guantanamo Bay (June-August 1977), the North Atlantic (November-December 1977), and the Mediterranean/Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf (March-September 1979).

The Brooklyn Navy Yard was the site of the USS Joseph Hewes’s first major overhaul from the time spanning from January of 1981 through February of 1982. A period of refresher training ensued prior to the USS Joseph Hewes resuming a normal schedule of deployments—mainly to the Mediterranean—that would carry her through to the end of the decade.

On September 30, 1991, the USS Joseph Hewes was assigned to join the Naval Reserve Force (Charleston, South Carolina). She was one of eight ships of the Knox class to be reclassified as a training frigate (FFT).

Decommissioned on June 30, 1994, the USS Joseph Hewes was leased to Taiwan where she operated under the name ROCS Lan Yang (FF-935). Struck from the US Naval Vessel Register on January 11, 1995, the USS Joseph Hewes was eventually sold to the Taiwanese Navy.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Joseph Hewes (FF-1078)

Asbestos contamination occurred in literally every compartment of US Navy vessels placing sailors and shipyard workers at risk for the development of one of several diseases—asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and/or gastrointestinal cancer—scientifically proven to result from asbestos exposure.

The inner workings of US Navy ships were environments where protection from heat and fire were a paramount concern. In response to this need, asbestos rose to the forefront as the material of choice for insulating against these elements.

As time progressed through the 20th century, however, it became evident that navy personnel were falling victim to diseases at an alarming rate. Medical science ultimately linked these diseases to asbestos exposure.

When friable asbestos fibers enter the human body via the nose and/or mouth they attach to the membranes of the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity where they can remain for great lengths of time (decades). The presence of these particles eventually results in cell inflammation, cell infections, and in the most severe cases, cell mutation into cancer.

Asbestos-related illnesses are often difficult to diagnose due to the fact that symptoms indicative of disease do not present until as many as 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure to asbestos took place.

Financial compensation is available to most victims of mesothelioma and can be obtained through the acquisition of an experienced mesothelioma attorney. While such compensation cannot alter the course of a victim’s disease, the money can be directed towards often overwhelming medical expenses and can provide some standard of financial security to a victim’s beneficiaries. Please contact us for a free informational packet that outlines your legal rights as a victim of asbestos exposure and provides information about what course of action to pursue in terms of obtaining optimal medical care and legal assistance.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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