USS Barker DD-213 (1919-1945)
William Cramp and Sons, located in Philadelphia, built the USS Barker DD-213. The 1,215 ton Clemson class destroyer was commissioned on December 27, 1919, first commanded by Lieutenant Commander C.A. Windsor.
Beginning her service in Middle Eastern waters, the Barker sailed eastward in 1921 to Asian seas. Here she began her four year tour of duty by joining the Asiatic Fleet. She cruised in the Asiatic and Philippine waters until she departed Manila in May, 1925. Next she served two years with the Scouting Force. After a short campaign in Nicaragua she headed for a two year tour with the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe. During this time she stopped at a number of European ports where she carried out goodwill visits.
From 1929 to 1941 she remained in the Asiatic Station. There she operated with the destroyer divisions. When there were problems in China, she helped to protect the American interests.
Action in World War II
On December 7, 1941, after learning about the Pearl Harbor attack, she began patrolling the surrounding area. Then, through the following January, the Barker patrolled and escorted convoys in the Netherlands East Indies.
In February she attempted to halt the Japanese movement into the Dutch East Indies, participating in anti-aircraft action off Banka Island and Bali. That same month she was damaged by near misses, requiring emergency repairs. She left for Australia where she underwent the needed repairs.
The Barker then sailed to Tonga Island, where she remained for a little more than one month. This was followed by a stop at Pearl Harbor. Her next task involved escorting convoys from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor.
In May, 1943 she sailed to Maine to be a member of the hunter killer TG 21.12. She then left New York to hunt for enemy submarines. Following the sinking of U-487, the Barker successfully rescued 33 survivors. She then returned to New York and then headed with the Group on another sweep of anti-submarines missions. After the sinking of U-534 and U-185, she successfully rescued 36 survivors of U-185.
She then headed out and made two trans-Atlantic convoy escort crossings to England, then undertaking four more to North Africa. The remainder of her service found her performing as a convoy escort in the Caribbean, to Newfoundland, as well as operating along the eastern seaboard. Arrivingin Philadelphia in June, 1945, she was decommissioned on July 18. She was then sold on November 30, 1945.
During her years of service the USS Barker DD-213 received two battle stars.
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.