USS Bordelon DD-881 (1945-1977)

The USS Bordelon DD-881 was a 2,616-ton Gearing-class destroyer named after Marine Staff Sergeant William J. Bordelon. Bordelon (1920-1943) posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism while taking part in the Battle of Tarawa. The Bordelon was constructed by Consolidated Steel Corporation of Orange, Texas and laid down on September 9, 1944. The ship was launched on March 3, 1947 by the mother of Staff Sergeant Bordelon, officially being commissioned on June 5, 1945. The USS Bordelon, powered by steam turbines and four boilers, served as part of the occupation force in Japan until March of 1946. The ship then alternated operations in the Caribbean and along the east cost of the United States. The ship was deployed with the 2nd Fleet to the Mediterranean as part of operations in the area.

After the war

The Bordelon continued to serve into the Korean War and Vietnam War, remaining active even after those conflicts came to an end. On September 14, 1976, while the ship was refueling next to the aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy CV-67, the two vessels collided. The USS Bordelon sustained damage to its port bow along with some of the superstructure. The collision also resulted in the main mast snapping and falling on the signal shack. This resulted in the injury of men on the handling team. The Bordelon was subsequently rescued by an ammunition ship, the USS Mount Baker AE-34, which escorted the ship to an ammunition depot where the explosive ordnance disposal team of the Mount Baker off-loaded the ammunition cargo of the Bordelon and provided water and electric services to the distressed ship. Due to the damage sustained in this accident, including superstructure and electronic damage, coupled with the age of ship and condition of the hull, the Bordelon was officially decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on February 1, 1977. The ship was then sent to Iran in July of 1977, where it was taken apart for spare parts.

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.