A Fletcher-class destroyer, the USS Brown DD-546 received her name from George Brown, who was part of a unit that fought in the First Barbary War and seized the USS Philadelphia. The USS Brown was sponsored by Mrs. Claude O. Kell, who was married to Captain Kell. Commissioned July 10, 1943, Lieutenant Commander Thomas H. Copeman was placed in charge of the destroyer.
Action in World War II
On November 10, 1943, the USS Brown left Hawaii with Task Force 50.2. She was involved in the Gilbert Islands skirmish when the Japanese army attacked again, following their strike on Pearl Harbor. From December 25, 1943 to January 1944, the destroyer battled the Japanese when they attacked Kavieng, New Ireland.
The destroyer participated in numerous Pacific battles and bombardments throughout 1944, screening carriers throughout. Among her battles and supporting actions were the Marshall Islands, Marcus Islands and Wake Island raids. During her involvement in the Battle of the Philippine Sea she rescued four American pilots.
The USS Brown was trapped during a December 1944 typhoon and its orders to attack Luzon were withdrawn so that the destroyer could rescue survivors from three other battle ships. She was able to locate 18 survivors from the Hull, and from the Monaghan she was able to save six military personnel. The ship was then instructed to travel to Seattle, Washington, where she was refurbished.
The destroyer was prepared for duty, and was assigned to participate in the Okinawa operation. She was given the Navy Unit Commendation for the service she provided during raids against Japan. She was also honored for maneuvers southwest of Okinawa.
After the war
When peace was restored, the destroyer aided personnel in Japan. The ship stayed in this area until October 28, 1945. The USS Brown was then ordered to San Diego, arriving at her destination on November 17, 1945, where she was added to the 19th Fleet.
By August 1, 1946, the destroyer was removed from duty and placed in storage until 1950. The ship was reactivated on October 27, 1950 and was used in rigorous shakedown maneuvers near the west coast. The destroyer again traveled to the Far East in March 1951, where she was used in the siege of Wonsan Harbor twice. The ship was once again taken out of service on February 9, 1962.
The USS Brown was transferred on September 27, 1962, to Greece, operating as the HNS Navarino (D-63) with the Greek Navy. She remained there until 1981, when she was considered unfit for duty and was scrapped for parts.
The USS Brown was awarded 15 battle stars for her service in World War II and the Korean War.
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.