USS Barton was the second ship in the U.S. Navy to be named after Rear Admiral John Kennedy Barton. Admiral Barton served a very distinguished career in the navy, mostly on the Asiatic Station as chief engineer, before returning to teach at his alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. Rear Admiral Barton died in 1921.
The USS Barton was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer. It was launched in October of 1943 under the sponsorship of Ms. Barbara Dean Barton, granddaughter of Admiral Barton. It was commissioned in December of 1943.
Action in World War II
The USS Barton entered World War II in 1944, serving as a patrol ship and providing bombardment duties to aid the invasion of Normandy, code named D-Day. The Barton was slightly damaged by German batteries on June 25, 1944.
However, it was in the Pacific theatre of the war that USS Barton was most engaged. She took part in at least six memorable battles and engagements, including the Iwo Jima invasion, the Okinawa invasion, and the capture of Leyte.
After the war
Barton served two more years after the war, until 1947, mostly operating off the west coast of the United States until she was put into reserve at San Diego.
Action in the Korean War
Barton was recommissioned in 1949 for the Korean War. She operated with the Pacific Fleet, eventually joining Task Force 77 as part of a hunter-killer group. She was struck by a mine in 1952 and was forced to leave the war, but was not out of action entirely. In 1954, she patrolled waters between Okinawa and Taiwan in hunter-killer exercises. The next year she was overhauled and subsequently underwent three months of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training in preparation for a Mediterranean cruise.
During hostilities that erupted between Israel and Egypt in the mid-1950s, Barton was dispatched as a rescue vessel in case Americans in the area needed evacuation. Later, she witnessed history, first as an escort to President Eisenhower during international conferences, then as part of the convoy covering the Project Mercury space expedition in which Colonel John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. Perhaps most significantly, the USS Barton serve as a supporting vessel for the warships engaged in the quarantine of Cuba during the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After the war
In her final years of commission, the Barton operated between Philadelphia, Norfolk, and Guantanamo Bay. In 1968, when she was determined to be beyond economical repair, the Barton was decommissioned.
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.