USS Barry was a Clemson class destroyer built at Camden, New Jersey. At a weight of 1,190 tons, she was named in honor of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803), one of the most influential commanders of the early U.S. Navy. Commissioned in late December of 1920, USS Barry began the first 11 months of her career in reserve status.
In November of 1921, however, she entered active duty with the Atlantic Fleet, where she spent the better part of her first dozen years. In July of 1933, the USS Barry was transferred to San Diego, California, and spent the remainder of the decade alternating between ports on both coasts. As the world situation became increasingly hostile in the fall of 1940, the USS Barry was designated to patrol the area around the Panama Canal, where she stayed until after the United States entered World War II.
Action in World War II
When World War II began, she served on escort duties in the Caribbean and South Atlantic, protecting convoys as they ferried vital supplies. She performed these duties until the middle of 1943, when she joined an anti-submarine unit which supported the escort aircraft carrier, Card CVE-11. Together the task force was able to sink 8 German U-boats, significantly contributing to the Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.
USS Barry began a conversion in 1943 to a high-velocity transport. In January of 1944, she was re-classified APD-29 and received a number of modifications and amphibious training in preparation for further military operations. In August of 1944, she moved from Algeria and participated in the invasion of Southern France. She spent the rest of the year escorting ships in the western side of the Mediterranean.
From there, orders took her to the Pacific theater to assist in the war against Japan. By May of 1945, the ship joined the campaign to capture Okinawa. However, in doing so, the USS Barry suffered immense damage from a kamikaze plane and had to be towed into port. With damage too serious to justify repair, the Barry was decommissioned a few weeks following the attack. While being towed to port, her unmanned hulk was sunk in June of 1945 by another suicide plane, helping to divert enemy attacks from more important targets.
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.