The USS Barton DD-59 was constructed in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was a Benson-class destroyer, weighing 1,620 tons. The Benson class was designed to improve upon the Sims class, with a new machinery arrangement that featured alternating boiler and engine rooms designed to give this class of destroyer a better chance at surviving torpedoes. Their framing dimensions were increased to carry the weight of the heavier machinery. This increased the ship’s weight by about sixty tons.
Action in World War II
At the end of May, 1942, the USS Barton was put into commission and her shakedown took place in waters off the East Coast. In the middle of September 1942, she was deployed to the south Pacific, where she helped to secure Guadalcanal. With the aircraft carrier Hornet, via a task force, she went to the Shortland Islands to try to raid Japanese shipping.
This raid on the Japanese took place in October of that year, but was unsuccessful because of inclement weather that occurred near the target site. Still with the Hornet, she acted as a screen while they took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. The date was October 26, 1942, and the carrier was sunk during the battle. On the 28th, she picked up seventeen personnel from a downed transport plane, saving their lives.
The USS Barton next went to Guadalcanal and escorted transports through the Iron Bottom Sound. That same evening, she and a number of other vessels intercepted a Japanese fleet that was much more powerful and included two Japanese battleships. Because the Japanese forces were so much stronger, many ships were lost. The USS Barton was hit by a torpedo and quickly sank. Almost all her personnel were lost. This battle was later to be known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
After the war
The USS Barton’s sunken hull was found in 1992 during the Iron Bottom Sound expedition that took place southeast of Savo Island. She was found in over 2000 feet of water. Only about 100 feet from the Barton, her bow sat, its guns still pointing toward port. The rest is likely close by, but was never located.
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.