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USS Robert E. Peary (FF-1073)

The 22nd Knox-class vessel to be constructed, the USS Robert E. Peary was named in honor of the American explorer who lived from 1856 through 1920 and who was credited with discovering the North Pole (although his claim has been widely debated throughout history). Robert E. Peary’s personal motto—“I Shall Find a Way or Make One”—which was inscribed on his gravestone also served as the motto of the ship that bore his name. The USS Robert E. Peary was in commission in service to the United States for 19.9 years.

Construction

The keel of the USS Robert E. Peary was laid down by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company (Seattle, Washington) on December 20, 1970 after having been ordered by the US Navy on July 22, 1964. Miss Josephine Peary served as the vessel’s sponsor at a launching ceremony held on June 23, 1971. Officially commissioned as a destroyer escort (DE) on September 23, 1972, the USS Robert E. Peary employed a complement of 18 officers and 267 enlisted men and women initially led by Commander Charles Beasley. She was later redesignated as a frigate (FF) on June 30, 1975.

The USS Robert E. Peary was propelled by a system comprised of one Westinghouse geared turbine and two Combustion Engineering boilers that allowed her to achieve speeds in excess of 27 knots. A sophisticated array of weaponry—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)—was housed on board the USS Robert E. Peary along with one aircraft (a SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System [LAMPS] helicopter) for use during special operations requiring additional support from the air.

Naval History

The USS Robert E. Peary conducted a two-month period of tests and trials post-commissioning prior to her arrival at her homeport of Long Beach, California on November 8, 1972. Serving with Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific (CruDesPac), she operated out of Long Beach for one year before departing on her first deployment to the Western Pacific in November of 1973.

Throughout her career, the USS Robert E. Peary operated solely with the US Pacific Fleet while carrying out a regular schedule of deployments to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Persian Gulf. She underwent an overhaul period from September of 1982 through May of 1983.

The recipient of several awards and honors, the USS Robert E. Peary was credited with rescuing Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea on two separate occasions (1979 and 1982) for which she was awarded two Humanitarian Service Medals. In the year 1991, the USS Robert E. Peary was awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal for her support of efforts in the Persian Gulf where she patrolled the waters for ships carrying prohibited cargo under the United Nations embargo against Iraq.

Officially decommissioned at Naval Station Pearl Harbor on August 7, 1992, the USS Robert E. Peary was leased to the Taiwanese Navy where she operated under the new name of Chi Yang (932). Stricken from the US Naval Vessel Register on January 11, 1995, the ship was eventually purchased by Taiwan on September 29, 1999.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Robert E. Peary (FF-1073)

Exposure to asbestos is the primary risk factor for the development of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the inner linings of the heart, lungs, and abdomen. Navy veterans and shipyard workers are considered to be a high-risk group for the development of mesothelioma due to the large quantities of asbestos utilized in the construction and maintenance of US Navy vessels.

Several factors influence an individual’s likelihood of developing mesothelioma, among them the amount of asbestos one was exposed to and the duration of time the exposure took place. When asbestos particles become airborne they enter the human body by means of inhalation and/or ingestion. Once inside, these particles attach to the membranes of the chest cavity and abdomen. Asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, are often difficult to diagnose as symptoms may take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to present after the initial exposure took place.

If you served aboard a vessel such as the USS Robert E. Peary, it is likely that you were exposed to asbestos at one time or another. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please fill out the form on this page to receive a complimentary informational packet specifically designed for individuals afflicted with mesothelioma.

Sources
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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