The USS Bell, a Fletcher-class destroyer weighing 2,050 tons, was built by the Charleston Navy Yard. The destroyer was named for Rear Admiral Henry H. Bell, who died in a boat accident in January 1868 during his command of the Asiatic Squadron. She was commissioned in March 1943, spending the first year on patrol and convoy duty in the North Atlantic.
Action in World War II
The Bell then headed over to the Pacific Ocean in 1943 and undertook combat operations in this region starting in December 1943. She supported aircraft carrier strikes on New Ireland during this time. In January and February of 1944, she aided in the invasion of the Marshall Islands. Then, because of her speed she was used as a screen for the fast carriers that would raid the Japanese islands in the central Pacific
The Bell ended up continuing this type of work even during the invasion of Saipan, which led to the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the eventual conquest of Guam. She even participated in related strikes in the area on the Bonins and Caroline Islands. In September and October of 1944, she was part of the major task force that raided the Palaus, Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa. Furthermore, the Bell helped cover the withdrawal of the Australian cruiser, the Canberra, and USS Houston after they were hit by enemy torpedoes in the middle of October 1944.
In late 1944 and into early 1945, the USS Bell participated in the carrier attacks on Luzon, even helping support the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. She was also one of the ships that sank the Japanese submarine, RO-115. After this success, she steamed east across the Pacific to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul.
She returned to the war zone in May of 1945, helping take part in the amphibious landings on Borneo in early June. The Bell completed her war service in the Philippines. She then participated in the occupation duties of Japan, after the nation surrendered.
After the war
She arrived in San Francisco early in 1946. She was decommissioned and added to the Pacific Reserve Fleet in mid-June of that year. She remained in mothballs until November 1972, when she was removed from the Naval Vessel Register. In May of 1975, she was sunk as a target ship.
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, includingÂ 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.