The Bethlehem Steel Co. built the USS Abner Read in San Francisco, California. The ship, completed on October 30, 1941, launched on august 18, 1942. Commissioned on February 5, 1943, the ship was commanded by Cdr. T. Burrowes and sponsored by Mrs. John Gates.
Action in World War II
The destroyer performed a shakedown cruise along the California coast until early in the month of April. The USS Abner Read joined the task force 51.2 and set sail for the Aleutian Islands. It performed patrol duties from May 4 to May 11 and shelled positions on the Attu island stronghold. It supported troops who were conducting raids on the island. The ship once again bombed the islands on May 16 and subsequently returned to San Diego and returned near the end of the month.
After returning to San Diego, the ship set sail for San Francisco and remained docked in reserve status for the next two weeks. The ship headed for Adak, Alaska on June 14. When it arrived in Alaska, the Abner Read joined the Task Force 16 and began performing patrols in and around the waters near Kiska Island. During the months of July and August, the ship participated in a heavy bombardment of the island in which the Japanese ordered their forces to retreat. The USS Abner Read suffered a serious hit to its aft side during patrols of the island late at night. The cause of the hit was unknown. The ship was towed to Adak, Alaska for repairs that night. 70 crewmembers were killed and another 47 men were wounded.
On October 17, the ship traveled towards the Leyte Gulf region. The ship remained on patrol for the remainder of its stay in the region. On November 1of the year 1945, the Abner Read was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze pilot, suffering severe damage to its engine room. During the attack, the ship lost water pressure and the fire was unable to be controlled. The ship sunk that day at approximately 14:15. Destroyers that were close by quickly came to rescue the crew; all but 22 members of the crew were rescued.
The USS Abner Read received four stars for its heroic service to the United States during World War II.
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.