USS Ault DD-698 (1943-1973)
Named for Commander William B. Ault, the USS Ault was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer. The USS Ault was launched on March 26, 1944 and commissioned May 31, 1944 after she was built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in New Jersey. After undergoing training in the Caribbean, she sailed to New York for final preparations before joining the war effort in the Pacific.
Action in World War II
During World War II, the USS Ault spent a considerable amount of time in Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, and Japan. She played a vital role in the campaign against Okinawa and participated in many strikes against the Japanese. Although the Ault came under heavy fire on several occasions, she never sustained damage so severe as to put her out of commission.
After the war
By April 1946 she was back on US soil at the Boston Navy Yard where she underwent an overhaul. In 1947 she went to Charleston, SC to undergo training exercises and in July of the same year, the Ault traveled to New Orleans where she spent two years as a Naval Reserve training ship. Part of 1949 was spent in the Mediterannean for the destroyer and by January 1950 she was back in Norfolk preparing for inactivation. By the end of May she was placed in reserved and towed to the Charleston Naval Shipyard to be part of their Inactive Reserve Fleet.
Action in the Korean War
However, the destroyer’s inactive period was brief as the Korean War was breaking out. By the end of 1950 she was in Guantanamo Bay for training and was sent to carry out some antisubmarine warfare exercises in Cuban waters. During February 1953, she was back in the Caribbean participating in drills and then it was back to Guantanamo. In December 1953 she collided with the USS Haynsworth DD-700, forcing the ship to be sent for repairs.
After the war
During the period from 1954 to 1966 she was sent to various locations around the globe to participate in different training exercises and underwent various overhauls to keep her in good condition. From October 1966 to August 1967, she was in Vietnam during the war, and from 1968 to1973 she went on various short training missions before being struck from the Navy list on September 1, 1973.
The USS Ault enjoyed a long and varied career during WWII and the Vietnam War, ultimately being sold in April 1974 and broken up for scrap. During WWII she earned five battle stars for her service and an additional two more in the Vietnam War.
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.