USS Caperton DD-650 (1943-1960)
The USS Caperton, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was built in Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works. The Caperton was formally commissioned on July 30, 1943, two months after she was launched. The vessel was named after William B. Caperton, graduate of the Naval Academy, chief and commander-in-chief of several fleets during his Navy career.
Action in World War II
The Caperton joined the Pacific fleet in November of 1944, begining her career by conducting numerous patrols near the Gilbert Islands. The Caperton then joined the famed Task Force 58 to help lead the American push deeper into the Pacific, beginning the long effort of pushing back the Japanese occupation. On January 30, 1944, the Caperton assisted with the bombardment of the island of Kwajalein, then supporting airstrikes on Truk and Saipan in February.
Task Force 58 continued its work in March, with the Caperton supporting air operations for the invasion of the island of Emirau, continuing on to assist with additional airstrikes on Japanese positions on the islands of Palau, Yap, Woleai, and Ulithi. April 1944 saw continuing bombardment of the Japanese by the Caperton and Task Force 58, with the islands of Truk, Satawan, and Ponape. The Caperton then went on to assist in the Marianas operation, which ended with the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. The anti-aircraft efforts of the Caperton were instrumental in protecting the US aircraft carriers participating in the battle.
In August, 1944, the Caperton joined Task Force 38 to begin the invasion of the Philippines. The Caperton and other members of the task force bombarded numerous sites, both from the air and from shipboard gunnery emplacements. During the battle, the Caperton also played a part in guarding two cruisers that were torpedoed and heavily damaged, allowing them to get to safety. The Caperton then participated in the decisive Battle of Leyte Gulf, which largely broke the back of the Japanese naval effort. The Caperton then went on to assist Task Force 38 with bombardment of the Japanese home islands in the final days of the war.
After the war
After the end of the war, the Caperton went on to serve proudly in the Korean conflict and in support of various skirmishes and NATO operations. The Caperton was finally decommissioned on April 27, 1960. The USS Caperton earned 10 Battle Stars for her service in World War II and 1 for her service in the Korean conflict.
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.