Unlike two other naval vessels named after the second American president, the USS Adams DM-27 was named in honor of Lieutanant, junior grade Samuel Adams. This destroyer minelayer was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer constructed in 1944 in Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works. Later designated a Robert M. Smith-class destroyer minelayer, DM-27, in July of that year, she was launched on July 23, 1944, sponsored by Lt. Adams’ widow, Maude Ryan Adams. Commander Henry J. Armstrong was in command when Adams was commissioned in October out of Boston, Massachusetts.
Her shakedown cruise took place throughout November in and around Bermuda prior to sailing toward port at Norfolk, Virginia, arriving the first week of December. She then set sail to transit the Panama Canal with Shea and Bennington, arriving at the port of San Diego before the end of 1944. For the first assignment of the New Year, Adams headed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where she remained for two months as plane guard for Bataan and shore bombardment exercises.
Action in World War II
While at the Pearl Harbor Navy yard, she had plating for the main deck strengthened and VF radar equipment installed. Sailing from Pearl Harbor on March 2, Adams reached the Ulithi Atoll by mid-month prior to joining the Okinawa invasion group task force. Her first combat activities resulted in 2 casualties, with at least 13 sailors injured. Her minesweeping operations off Okinawa involved providing both gunfire support of area minesweepers along with mine destruction services. Intense attacks from at least 12 Japanese aircraft occurred during these operations.
Following emergency repairs at Kerama Retto, she was further damaged by a kamikaze pilot attack and endured additional repairs at Kerama Retto, leaving that port in early April to sail back to the United States mainland for permanent repairs. After completing repairs at Mare Island Navy Yard, Adams headed toward California for exercises off the Santa Catalina shoreline. Adams then made her way back to Hawaii and onto the Western Pacific warfront, where she arrived in Guam on V-J Day, August 15.
After the war
Further minesweeping operations spearheaded by Adams continued around the coast of Japan, Taiwan and the Strait of Taiwan. Following duty in Shanghai, China, she ultimately rejoined the 5th Fleet for duty throughout the Far East. Adams returned to the U.S. in the spring of 1946, assigned to the 1st Fleet. After being decommissioned in December of that year, Adams was reserved for 23 years and reclassified a fast minelayer MMD 27. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register in December of 1970, she was purchased by Chow’s Iron & Steel Co. of Taiwan a year 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.