USS Capps DD-550 (1942-1947)

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Action in World War II

The Capps was built in Chickasaw, Alabama, in 1942 and commissioned to serve with the Atlantic Fleet on June 23, 1943. The destroyer participated in combat exercises with the British Home Fleet when deployed in September 1943 to Scapa Flow, Scotland.

In October 1943, the Capps deployed to the Arctic Circle for the first raid on the Port of Bodo in Norway. Battleships and docks were burned by German air attacks, but the Capps emerged intact and returned to Scapa Flow, Scotland. Deployed to Gibraltar with three additional destroyers, British battleships and carriers were safely escorted back to Scapa Flow.

From October 29, 1943 until November 8, 1943, German battleships were hunted and convoy movement was guarded by the Capps. Deployed to Pearl Harbor in December 1943, the Capps performed guard duty, patrolled the waters, and participated in combat in the Marshall Islands operation. Boiler repairs forced a return to San Francisco, California. After repairs, the Capps was deployed in April 1944 to Majuro for special patrols.

The naval vessel was redeployed in May 1944 to Pearl Harbor for convoy duty. Patrol duty and the participation in special operations continued in the western Carolines with the Third Fleet. The Capps joined a carrier group on November 25, 1944 and performed air strikes in Manila. Logistics duty continued with the Third Fleet until the end of 1944. Other assignments included convoy escort, radar picket station duty, air rescue missions, and sea rescue missions.

The Capps was deployed to Ulithi to train with underwater demolition teams in preparation for the invasion of Iwo Jima. The naval vessel arrived in Iwo Jima on February 16, 1945. While on the firing line, combat duties included pre-invasion bombardment, participation in raids, defense against air attacks, and protection of the shore against surprise enemy attacks.

During the invasion of Okinawa, the Capps served in a troop of escort carriers, rescued downed aviators, and participated in combat against Japanese kamikaze attacks. On July 9, 1945, the naval vessel was returned to San Pedro, California for an overhaul. The Capps was awarded seven battle stars for service in World War II. On January 15, 1947, the naval vessel was decommissioned in Long Beach, California.

On May 15, 1957, the Capps was reclassified as the Lepanto, and loaned to Spain. The Lepanto continues to serve in the Spanish navy.

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.

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