The USS Cassin Young was a Fletcher-class destroyer named for Captain Cassin Young, a Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipient who was killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal. She was built by the Bethlehem Steel Corp. of San Pedro, California, seeing commissioning in December of 1943.
Action in World War II
After being commissioned, the USS Cassin Young sailed from San Pedro to complete training at Pearl Harbor. Following training exercises, the Cassin Young joined up with Task Force 58 and assisted in several attacks, mostly as a picket ship. She also conducted radar screening operations, and inshore fire support during attacks on Tinian and Guam.
In late August, the Cassin Young protected carriers during strikes against Palau and Luzon, ended this assignment in October 1944. After a brief stay in Ulithi, she sailed out to assist in the Philippines assault. She participated in attacks on Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa, leading up to the Formosa Air Battle. During the battle five of the Cassin Young’s crewmen were injured by gun fire from a Japanese plane.
After the Japanese attacks against the Princeton, the Cassin Young, joined up with TG 38.3, and moved north to counter enemy airstrikes in the Battle of Cape Engano, in which several Japanese vessels were sunk. Following this the Cassin Young acted in a supporting role in operations against Leyte, Okinawa, Camranh Bay, Canton, Hong Kong, and after a short overhaul in Ulithi, the invasion of Iwo Jima.
On April 1, 1945, the Cassin Young offered supporting fire in assault areas, and five days later she encountered kamikaze attacks by Japanese planes. She rescued several sailors from nearby destroyers which had been damaged during the attacks, and downed several planes before being struck by one. She again received repairs at Ulithi before being station on picket duty near Okinawa.
On July 28, the Japanese once more attack the carrier group, sinking one destroyer and damaging another. The Cassin Young rescued several sailors in this attack as well. The following day a Japanese suicide attack struck the side of the ship, damaging her severely. Repairs were conducted in San Pedro, California, where she was decommissioned in May 1946.
After the war
After being recommissioned in September 1951, she was relocated to the Atlantic, later making a tour of the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet and an around-the world-cruise which ended with her patrolling Korean waters with the 7th fleet. After returning to Newport in November of 1954, she continued to conduct training exercises until she was decommissioned 1960.
Active during operations in the Pacific, the Cassin Young received seven battle stars for her service, as well as a Naval Unit Commendation.
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.