USS Blakeley DD–150 was a Wickes-class destroyer with a displacement of 1,154 tons. The second vessel named for Captain Johnston Blakeley, she was launched on September 19, 1918 by William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was sponsored by Commander Blakeley’s wife and officially commissioned on May 8, 1919. With Commander W. Brown, Jr. placed in command, she embarked off the eastern coast to join the Atlantic Fleet.
She continued to cruise along the coast of the Atlantic until June 29, 1922, when she was put out of commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard. USS Blakeley would remain out of commission for the better part of the next two decades, with the exception of a five-year period in the 1930s when she served with the Scouting Fleet. She was recommissioned on October 16, 1939.
Action in World War II
Upon America’s entrance into WWII, USS Blakely joined the Neutrality Patrol and performed both patrol and convoy escort missions near the Caribbean. In February of 1942, she assisted in the escort of a troop convoy which would garrison an area in the West Indies. She would continue to patrol the area until May of 1942, when a German U-boat torpedoed her, killing six men, wounding 21 others, and tearing away approximately 60 feet of her bow.
Fortunately the crew was able to save the ship and dock her at Port de France, Martinique for emergency repairs. After additional repairs at various ports along the Caribbean, she was eventually refitted with a bow taken from the USS Taylor and completely overhauled. Of all the World War I era destroyers hit by German U-boats, USS Blakeley was the only one to survive, serving on a number of military and escort operations in both the Caribbean and the North Atlantic until 1945.
After the war
USS Blakeley served out of New London Connecticut on training missions with submarines for the remainder of the year. On November 30, 1945, she was sold for scrapping. A monument was later erected in 1956 using the anchor of the USS Blakeley. In honor of Captain Johnston Blakeley, it was built at Blakely corners in Blakely, Pennsylvania and still stands there today.
She received one battle star after the war for her convoy duty.
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.