USS Alden DD-221 (1919-1945)

Named for decorated Rear Admiral James Alden Jr., the destroyer USS Alden was commissioned in November of 1919. She made her first voyages in Adriatic waters in 1920 to protect American political interests in the area, which included carrying post and packages. She even took place in providing relief efforts in the Russian Civil War in mid 1920 before returning to Adriatic ports. After her duties there, she turned her attentions to the Philippines in 1921, after which spending two months in Olonagpo. Later, the Alden undertook target and torpedo practice in the Lingayen Gulf until the May of 1922. In January of 1923, she was decommissioned in San Diego, CA. After spending the rest of the decade inactive, Alden was recommissioned in May of 1930, where she took part in several large-scale fleet problems. In 1936, she replaced the USS Smith Thompson and started off once again for the waters of the Asiatic, where she operated mainly out of Chefoo during the onset of the Sino-Japanese hostilities. In 1937, she took a goodwill trip to the Soviet Union in order to pursue diplomatic relations with the USSR. In December of 1937, the Alden and Barker were ordered to Hoishoto Island to come to the aid of President Hoover, whose ship had run aground.

Action in World War II

With the growing tensions between the U.S. and Japan, Alden started training for war until mid-1941. On December 8th, 1941, she officially became part of the war effort. Over the next four years, she played a crucial role in battles throughout the Pacific. She spent a large amount of time escorting troops and convoys to war zones, as well as taking part in several sea battles. In 1943, she began an 8 month assignment to engage in escort duty in the Caribbean and to Trinidad, then spending part of 1944 in the waters around North Africa, as an anti-submarine group. In 1945, Alden collided with USS Hayter, sustaining substantial damage, most of which was repaired at the Norfolk Navy Yard. She spent the early part of the year escorting several ships between Guantanamo and Bermuda before officially being decommissioned for the final time in June of 1945 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was sold for scrap in November of 1945.

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.