The USS Blue was a Bagley-class destroyer built in the Norfolk Navy Yard. She would be commissioned in August of 1937 and would operate in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. She was then transferred to the Pacific Fleet, later seeing her fleet base changed from the West Coast of the United States to Hawaii in the spring of 1940. She was moored in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on the morning of December 7, 1941.
Action in World War II
The USS Blue would spend the first few weeks of the war in the Pacific patrolling off of Pearl Harbor in hopes of finding any of the Japanese submarines that were rumored to be in the area. In addition, she was assigned to the task force protecting the USS Enterprise. She eventually participated in raids on the Japanese island bases during the month. She even sailed between Hawaii and California on escort duty for the convoys that brought the vital supplies in. She eventually headed for New Zealand in June of 1942.
The Blue arrived in the middle of July joining the forces that were preparing to invade Guadalcanal and Tulagi, which is located in the Southern Solomon Islands. During the August landings, she was used to provide gun support for the forces and ended up serving as a screen. The destroyer was on picket duty off Guadalcanal in August of 1942 when Japanese warships slipped by and hurt the U.S. and Australian Navies in the Battle of Savo Island.
A couple of weeks later, the Blue was on a routine patrol off Guadalcanal when she ended up being torpedoed by a Japanese destroyer, the Kawakaze. This led to a severely damaged stern, forcing the ship to be towed to another area off of the coast of Tulagi. While here, the Blue was scuttled on August 23, 1942 while strong Japanese naval forces approached, leading to what would become the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.
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.