After the surrender of Germany, their vessel, the DM Z-39 Zerstorer, was handed over to the British government as a war prize. However, the ship was then transferred to the U.S. Navy on July 11, 1945, being placed under the command of Commander Dawes and renamed the DD-939. The engine was quickly discovered to have extensive corrosion though, prompting its transfer to the French government in 1948. The French Navy then used the ship for parts, utilizing the ship’s hulk as a floating pier for several years later. In February 1964, the vessel was finally scrapped.
While serving in the German Navy, the Z-39 briefly served at Jutland, then moving to the Baltic Sea in early 1944. The vessel was damaged by Soviet bombers in June of that year, getting sent to Kiel for repair. However, while there it was again damaged by a bomb, forcing repairs that lasted until February 16, 1945. The ship was decommissioned less than a month later on May 10, 1945.
This ship was classified as a Narvik-class destroyer, although it was more heavily armed than Allied destroyers. The ship’s performance and firepower were more comparable to a U.S. Navy light cruiser. Between 1938 and 1941, 15 Narvik-class destroyers were built.
Despite its firepower, this class of ship was plagued by numerous mechanical issues. The ship’s unreliable steam-turbine engines and nose-heavy bow design combined to make this ship a poorly-conceived vessel. However, recognizing the vessel’s considerable flaws, Germany began correcting some of these design issues on these ships, with the Z-39 being one of those improved. This ship was laid down in 1940, launched on August 5, 1941 and commissioned two years later.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.