Commissioned in August of 1936, the USS Cassin was a Mahan-class U.S. Naval destroyer built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Cassin operated in the Atlantic Fleet until 1938 when she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet for most of the remainder of her career.
After being commissioned, the Cassin operated in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, making her way as far south as Brazil. In 1938 she joined the Pacific Fleet, taking part in training and Fleet exercises as tensions with Japan continued to escalate. She made one cruise of the south Pacific, trekking as far west as Australia before returning to Pearl Harbor for a refitting.
Action in World War II
The Cassin was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese struck on December 7, 1941. During the attack, she was struck by bombs and fires broke out, causing her to come off her blocks and capsize against another ship alongside of her, the USS Downes.
Several months of major salvage operations on these damaged destroyers followed the Pearl Harbor attacks, and while the cassin’s hull was damaged beyond repair, much of her machinery and weaponry were salvageable. The salvaged materials were sent to the Mare Island Navy Yard in California where they were fitted into a new hull, bearing the same name as it had before.
The refitted Cassin was commissioned in February of 1944 and began a series of escort missions in the central Pacific. In October of that year, she took part in bombardment operations against Marcus Island, and later that month she took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of carrier task force 38.
For the remained of the war, the Cassin operated out of the Marianas Islands, taking part in the attacks against Iwo Jima from November 1944 until January 1945. She also played a support role in the conquest of the island from February to March 1945. She remained active in the area of Iwo Jima until August, when she returned to the Atlantic.
After the war
After making her way back to the Atlantic, the Cassin docked at Norfolk Virginia in 1945 and was decommissioned. She would remain here until November of 1947, when she was sold for scrap.
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.