USS Blue DD-744 (1944-1971)
The destroyer USS Blue, commissioned in March 1944, saw action in the Pacific in World War II and also participated in the Korean War. The Blue, an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, measured 376 feet, 6 inches in length. It displaced 2,200 tons, and its top speed was 34 knots. It carried a crew of 336, and had a range of 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots. The Blue was armed with six 5-inch guns, 33 antiaircraft guns of 40mm or 20mm, 10 torpedo tubes, and a half-dozen depth-charge projectors.
Action in World War II
The Blue, built by Bethlehem Steel in Staten Island, New York, was among the escorts for the battleship USS Missouri when it entered Tokyo Bay in August 1945 for the Japanese surrender.
Earlier in the war, the Blue participated in raids against Japanese forces in the Philippine Islands. It was also part of the Allied invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. While near Okinawa in June 1945, the Blue was damaged by a typhoon and returned to Leyte in the Philippines for repairs.
In August 1945, just days before Japan’s formal surrender, the Blue captured a Japanese submarine off the coast of Japan’s Honshu Island.
Following the war, the Blue underwent an overhaul and later took part in anti-submarine exercises near the Marianas Islands. It was placed in the reserve fleet in San Diego in 1947, briefly decommissioned in 1949, then placed back in service again in September 1950.
Action in the Korean War
With the Korean War under way, the Blue was attached to Task Force 77 near Korea, and assigned to escort, pilot rescue, and fire-support tasks. As the war continued, the Blue patrolled near Formosa and Japan and off the coast of Korea on Far East deployments.
The Blue was significantly modernized in 1960-61, receiving a drone flight deck and new Mark 32 torpedo tubes. In 1962, the Blue established Yokosuka, Japan, as its home port, and performed patrols over a wide area during the next two years.
Subsequent years saw the Blue make several deployments to the Far East as well as conduct training off the U.S. West Coast.
Three years after its decommissioning, the Blue was used as a target in a missile exercise and sank on April 28, 1977. The Blue was awarded six battle stars for its service in World War II and also received six for the Korean War. The warship was decommissioned in January 1971.
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.