The USS Abbot DD-629 was constructed on September 21, 1942 in Bath, Maine at the Bath Iron Works. The destroyer was launched on February 17, 1943 and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on April 23, 1943. The freshly-built destroyer was sent to serve as an escort for larger warships and made it to the western Pacific by the early fall of 1943.
Action in World War II
The Abbot then went to the Panama Canal in late September of 1943 and made its way to the Hawaiian Islands in October. After reaching Hawaii, the Abbot became part of a task force as part of operations in the Marshall Islands to prevent Japanese war planes from supporting other Japanese forces.
The Abbot returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs later that year. The ship was part of an amphibious operation in September and left Hawaii for the western Pacific and was a part of efforts in the Admiralty Islands, before resuming training and then participated in the invasion of the Philippines at Leyte. The ship provided night illumination for troops ashore near Dulag. The Abbot remained in the area into 1945. The ship was placed out of commission on May 21, 1946 and berthed in San Diego.
After the war
The Abbot remained in Reserve Fleet until hostilities in Korea required the need for more active ships. The vessel was officially commissioned again on February 26, 1951 and was sent to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for alterations and modernization. In mid-1951, the ship was sent into active service again, but not to Korea. Instead, the Abbot was sent to the east cost of the U.S. before being sent to the Panama Canal and then to a new home port in Newport, RI.
The vessel then served in operations in Cuba and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, the ship underwent further exercises, including refresher training, independent ship exercises and antisubmarine warfare exercises. The Abbot eventually made it to Belfast in Northern Ireland and Chatham, England, before returning to Newport, RI to serve in training exercises.
Action in the Cold War
In the early 1960s, the Abbot served as a school ship for the Destroyer Officer’s School in Newport. In 1962, the ship was sent to Guantanamo Bay to serve as a part of a base defense and would later serve to enforce the blockade of Cuba ordered by President Kennedy. The Abbot was decommissioned on March 26, 1965 and struck from Navy records on December 1, 1974, getting sold for scrap the following year.
Asbestos and 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.