USS Bristol DD-453 (1941-1943)
Mark Lambert Bristol, the ship’s namesake, served in the Spanish-American War and World War I, later serving as the United States High Commissioner in Turkey (1919-1927). He took command of the Asiatic Fleet in 1927. In May 1939 Admiral Bristol died.
The first Bristol built, the DD-453 was launched July 25, 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., of Kearny, New Jersey. Sponsored by Mrs. Powell Clayton and commissioned October 22, 1941 with Lieutenant Commander C.C. Wood in control, this destroyer measured almost 350 feet from stem to stern, the Bristol had a displacement of 1,630 tons.
Action in World War II
During the first year of deployment, the Bristol functioned as a patrol and convoy defender in the North Atlantic, resulting in several trans-Atlantic journeys to Ireland. On October 24, 1942, she participated in her first voyage to North Africa to aid in the landings at Fedhala, French Morocco from November 8 through 17. After returning to the United States in late November, she operated out of Norfolk until January 14, 1943, when she once again journeyed to the Mediterranean. With the exception of a single trip to the Canal Zone in April 1943, she completed her duty until October 13, 1943.
On October 13, 1943 at 0430, while accompanying a convoy to Oran, Algeria, Bristol DD -453 was hit by an enemy torpedo on the port side at the forward engine room, causing her to split in half. Although there was only one explosion and no fires occurred, steam, electrical power and communication was lost and the Bristol had to be abandoned. Approximately eight minutes after the explosion, the back section sank and a few minutes later the bow also went down. The Bristol lost 52 members of her crew. Those who survived were rescued by Trippe and Wainwright.
The Bristol was awarded three battle stars for her service in World War II.
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.