USS Butler DD-636 (DMS-29)

The USS Butler was a Gleaves-class destroyer weighing 1,630 tons. It was built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The USS Butler was named for Major General Smedley D. Butler, a noteworthy Marine Corps officer.

Action in World War II

After being commissioned in the middle of August 1942, the Butler was used extensively for escort work over the course of the following two years. The destroyer also played a role in the three greatest amphibious operations of the war in Europe. These three operations were the landings in Sicily in July of 1943, the invasion of Normandy during June of 1944, and August 1944’s invasion of the South of France. During October of 1944, the Butler started to undergo a conversion to high-speed mine-sweeping ship. Soon, it gained a new designation as the DMS-29.

Following the conversion, the Butler was ordered to travel into the Pacific Theater and join America’s war against the Japanese forces. In March of 1945, the ship became heavily engaged in the campaign on Okinawa. Initially, the Butler swept the water for mines. Eventually, it embarked upon assignments to screen for submarines and picket aircrafts. On March 25, 1945, the USS Butler sustained heavy damage from an attack by a Kamikaze.

Fortunately, the ship was able to make it to a port and eventually return to the shores of the United States. However, her condition was too poor to warrant permanent repairs, meaning she would not gain entrance back into the fleet following the war. The USS Butler was decommissioned during November 1945. She was then sold for scrap metal in January 1948.

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.


Naval Historical Center