The USS Biddle was the second ship named after Captain Nicholas Biddle. Launched on October 3, 1918 by William Cramp & Sons of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Biddle served the United States Navy as a Wickes-class destroyer throughout World War II, until being reclassified the AG-114. Captain Biddle’s great-great grandniece, Elise B. Robinson, sponsored the vessel’s construction. Commander C.T. Blackburn was assigned the ship upon its commission in April 22, 1919.
Following commission, she was assigned to Division 48 and sailed the eastern coast of the United States until being decommissioned in June 20, 1922 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. On October 16, 1940 she was recommissioned for duty with Destroyer Division 66, Atlantic Squadron. During her tenure with Destroyer Division 66, the Biddle served to patrol out of Key West, Florida. The vessel also conducted patrols of the Caribbean and served in training duty for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps under the orders of the Commandant, 15th Naval District.
Action in World War II
From March 1942 to February 1945, the USS Biddle performed convoy duty in the Caribbean. The USS Biddle rescued 173 people over the course of these three years. The two exceptions to her duties during this period were time spent as part of an anti-submarine task force, TG 2, from January18, 1944 to February 27, 1944, as well as taking part in an escort for Convoy UGS-37.
Escort duty brought the Biddle to North Africa from March 24, 1944 to May 11, 1944. During this mission, the Biddle earned a battle star for its service during an attack by a German plane on April 11-12, 1944. Seven crewmen were wounded in the battle.
During the months of March to July, 1945, the Biddle served in torpedo boat exercises off the east coast. Shortly thereafter, the Biddle was reclassified in June, 1945, as the AG-114 (miscellaneous auxiliary). The Biddle underwent AG-114 conversion at Boston Navy Yard on July 15, 1945, being completed as Japan formally surrendered. She remained at Boston Navy Yard during her October 5, 1945 decommissioning. On the 3rd of December, 1946, the USS Biddle was sold for scrapping.
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.