USS Allen DD-66 (1917-1946)
The USS Allen, a Sampson class destroyer weighing 1,071-tons, was built at Bath, Maine. Her commission date was January 1917 and she was named after Commander William Henry Allen (1784-1813), who served with heroism in 1807 during the battle between the USS Chesapeake and HMS Leopard, as well as in the War of 1812.
Action in World War I
Initially operating along the east coast of the U.S. and in the Caribbean, in June 1917, Allen began combat service after escorting a troop convoy, based in Queenstown, Ireland. Her main role until hostilities ended in November of 1918, was as an escort and anti-submarine patrol off the British Isles and France. USS Allen also escorted President Wilson as he traveled on the transport, George Washington, heading to Brest, France.
After the War
During peacetime, Allen was active in the western Atlantic and West Indies. In July 1920, her designation became DD-66, when the Navy changed its method of hull numbering. She was decommissioned in June 1922, then recommissioned and returned to active status in 1925, based at the Washington Navy Yard, D.C., as a Naval Reserve training ship. In March 1928, she was decommissioned again until 1940, stored in the “red lead row” at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Action in World War II
Allen was recommissioned in August 1940, when the U.S. responded to tensions from the crisis in Europe following the start of World War II. She was the last operational ship of her class. Receiving her orders, she headed for the Pacific and her new base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Allen was based there. It was this devastating attack that officially brought the United States into the war. Her crew did an admirable job, assisting in bringing down three of the Japanese attack planes. During the remainder of the Pacific War, the USS Allen served as an escort and did patrol duty, predominantly in the area of the Hawaiian Islands. However, she did occasionally sail to the mainland and back.
After the War
When hostilities ended in September 1945, the USS Allen embarked on her last voyage, from Pearl Harbor to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was decommissioned there in mid October and stricken from the Naval Vessels list beginning in November, 1945. In September 1946, Allen was sold for scrap.
For her service in World War II, the USS Allen was awarded one battle star.
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.