USS Bennett DD-473 (1941-1946)
The USS Bennett DD-473 was built at the Boston Navy Yard and laid down on the December 10, 1941. This Fletcher-class destroyer was named after naval aviator, Floyd Bennett. Sponsored by Mrs. Floyd Bennett, widow of Floyd Bennett, she was launched on April 16, 1942. She was put into commission on the 9th of February, 1943. Commander E. B. Taylor was chosen to captain the destroyer.
Action in World War II
Her first mission was to patrol the islands of Hawaii from Pearl Harbor after she arrived on May 31, 1943. Her next mission was to act as an escort for a convoy to Efate, New Hebrides. She was next deployed there to patrol and guard planes from August 27th through October 28th. Her next patrol and convoy action was in the Solomon Islands from the 4th of November through the 5th of April, 1944. While in the Solomons she participated in a number of actions and exercises, including support of the Cape Torokina landing on November 1, 1943, the Green Island landing on the 15th of February, 1944, an attack on Kavieng, New Ireland on the 18th of February, 1944 and another attack on Rabaul, New Britain on the 29th of February.
She then went to Saipan on June 14th to help with an invasion that lasted until the 1st of July. Then she moved on to Guam to help with the invasion there from the 2nd until the 16th of August. At the end of August, she went back to the South Pacific. Here she participated in the invasion of the Palaus from the 6th until the 25th of September, returning to California for an overhaul after. She arrived in San Francisco on October 25th, 1944.
On Christmas Eve of 1944 she arrived back at her first base in Pearl Harbor and stayed there for thirty days. She was then deployed to Iwo Jima to take part in the landings there from the 19th of February until the 5th of March, 1945. She sustained damage from a dud bomb on March 1st, but stayed in service. She then participated in the invasion of Okinawa on April 1st. During that same invasion, on April 7th, at 8:50, she was attacking planes when she was hit by a Kamikaze. 18 men were wounded and 3 were killed. Electric power was knocked out and the forward engine room was damaged as well.
Although damaged, the Bennett actually got to Kerama Retto on her own power. The next day she was towed to Saipan by the USS Yuma ATF-94. After being repaired just enough to sail, she continued on to America for complete repair from May through August of 1945 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. After being declared ready, she was sent to Adak, Aleutian Islands to take military weather personnel to Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka. This run lasted from August 28th until September 26th, 1945.
After the war
She then went home to the United States, where she was put in reserve in San Diego, California. She was finally taken out of commission on the 18th of April, 1946. The destroyer was transferred to Brazil in December, 1959, where she was renamed the Paraiba. The Navy of Brazil struck and scrapped her in 1978. Her awards include a Navy Unit Commendation and nine battle stars for heroic service in World War II.
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.