The USS Babbitt DD-128 was a Wickes class destroyer named after Fitz Babbitt, an officer in the United States Navy during the War of 1812. The Babbitt was constructed by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey on February 19, 1918. She was then launched on September 30, 1918 under the sponsorship of Miss Lucile Burlin, finally being commissioned on October 24, 1919 under the command of Commander W. W. Eberle.
The Babbitt was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and deployed out of San Diego. She performed exercises and maneuvers with the fleet until going out of commission on June 15, 1922, whereupon she was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
On April 4th, 1930, the Babbitt was recommissioned and once again assigned to the Pacific Fleet. She performed duties along the west coast until February of 1931, when she was ordered to the Atlantic. The Babbitt then served with the Destroyer Squadron along the eastern seaboard between February of 1931 and May 1932. Her operation area included the Gulf of Mexico, the West Indies, and the Panama Canal Zone. Later in 1932, she was reassigned to the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Connecticut. While under this assignment, she made a cruise to Chile while doing exercises with new experimental torpedoes.
On May 25, 1933, The USS Babbitt was assigned to the Rotating Reserve Destroyer Squadron at Norfolk, Virginia. Until January of 1935, she operated with the Training Squadron. On May 15, 1935, she was placed back in full commission, this time serving with the Midshipmen’s Coastal Cruise Detachment. In April 1939, she participated in the opening of the World’s Fair in New York. Afterwards, she was deployed as part of the 27th Destroyer Squadron Patrol Force, on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
Action in World War II
After World War II began, The Babbitt was assigned to convoy duty off the coast of Iceland, and also along the east coast of the U.S. She completed five trans-Atlantic crossings between March 10, 1943 and March 21, 1944. In February of 1945, the Babbitt was ordered to the Underwater Sound Laboratory of New London, Connecticut to participate in experimental sonar work. Her classification to AG-102 changed in June of that year. She remained on duty until December.
After the war
In December 1945, the Babbitt entered the New York Navy Yard for pre-inactivation overhaul, and was subsequently decommissioned on January 25, 1946. The destroyer earned one battle star for the successful escort of Convoy SC-121.
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.