USS Baldwin DD-624 (1943-1961)
The USS Baldwin was a Gleaves class destroyer that weighed in at 1,630 tons. The USS Baldwin was built in Seattle, Washington and received her commission in April of 1943. The history of the USS Baldwin begins in 1943 as she made her first journey to North Africa. The USS Baldwin crossed the Atlantic Ocean providing escort to convoys. Her shakedown training took place off the west coast of the United States.
Action in World War II
In June of 1944, as a unit of gunfire support, the USS Baldwin provided much needed aid to onshore troops in the form of gunfire during the landings at Normandy. The USS Baldwin again provided necessary support two months later when Southern France was invaded by United States military forces. The destroyer also provided protection for invasion shipping and also carried out the necessary wartime patrols in Atlantic waters. During January and February 1945, the USS Baldwin rendezvoused with the USS Quincy (CA-39), a cruiser who was transporting President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference.
After providing escort for the transport of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the USS Baldwin continued her service along the east coast of the United States. In July of 1945, the Baldwin was commissioned to the Pacific where she was to provide aid in the war against Japan. This proved to be a very short assignment, as the war came to an end shortly after she arrived.
After the war
In the first few months of the post-war era, the USS Baldwin served as flagship during minesweeping efforts off the shores of Korea and China. Early in 1946, the USS Baldwin returned to the eastern coast of the United States and was then decommissioned in June. She was then placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
In April 1961, while being towed between the facilities at the Reserve Fleet, the Baldwin broke tow and received considerable damage as she went ashore just two miles southwest of Montauk Point. The Baldwin was pulled into deeper waters, freeing her. It was later determined, when she was refloated, that the USS Baldwin was not worth the expense of repair. The USS Baldwin was removed from inventory in the Navy Vessel register at that time. The destroyer was taken out to sea and was scuttled on June 5, 1961.
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.