USS Burns DD-588 (1943-1946)

This Wolverine-class destroyer was one of two ships named for Captain Hugh Otway Burns, a privateer in the War of 1812. The destroyer was launched on August 8, 1942, christened by the great granddaughter of Captain Hugh Burns, Mrs. Harry L. Smith. Her first commander was Commander D.T. Eller. She was given her first mission on April 3, 1943.

Action in World War II

On September 17, 1943, The USS Burns came to Pearl Harbor. There her crew was trained before embarking on her career as an anti-submarine escort, picket ship, fighter director ship, and aircraft rescue vessel. Her career as a World War II destroyer spanned the period between October 1943 and July1945. She returned to the United States only once for a three month refitting that lasted from February to April of 1945. The USS Burns saw action while patrolling the seas of Wake Island, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Truk, Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai, Hollandia, Mariana Islands, Palau Islands, and the Caroline Islands. The USS Burns rescued three American aviators from the waters on January 30, 1944. Immediately after picking up the three crashed aviators, she sailed for Ujae Atoll and came upon a Japanese convoy of 4 Japanese boats, sinking all four Japanese vessels. Her next battle star was earned on February 17, 1944, when she sailed as part of the Task Group 50.9 in the Truk and Caroline Islands area. The USS Burns took part in sinking Katori, a Japanese destroyer, and a smaller vessel. Immediately sent to track and destroy the Japanese destroyer, No. 24, she successfully completed her mission and managed to rescue 6 Japanese survivors after the sinking of their vessel.

After the war

At the end of the war, the USS Burns stayed in the Far East as part of the Allied Occupation until December of 1945. Her role was to maintain the occupation of Korea and China by keeping the Yellow Sea clear of hostile ships. On December 29, 1945, The USS Burns left the occupation zone, arriving in San Francisco on January 8, 1946. She was decommissioned on June 25, 1946, heading to San Diego. She was eventually used for target practice and sunk on June 20, 1974. The USS Burns DD-588 earned 11 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.