The fifteenth Benson-class destroyer in the United States Navy and the second ship named after decorated War of 1812 officer Stephen Champlin, the USS Champlin received six battle stars for its service in the Second World War.
The USS Champlin was launched from the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, MA by the Bethlehem Steel Company on July 25, 1942. The Champlin featured a 1,620 ton displacement and spanned a length of 347’9″ with a 36’1″ long beam and a 17’4″ draught. It also boasted a speed of 38 knots and a complement of 252 crew members. Originally sponsored by Mrs. A. C. Brendel and commanded by Lieutenant Commander C. L. Melson, it was commissioned on September 12, 1942.
Action in World War II
During World War II, the Champlin was involved in several noteworthy operations. On March 12, 1943, the crew of the Champlin, after being followed for six days while guarding a convoy to Casablanca, found (via radar) and sank the German submarine U-130 just west of the Azores. As the convoy continued eastward, the USS Champlain saved all one hundred twenty-seven of the USS Wyoming’s crewmen along with two survivors of the SS Molly Pitcher.
On April 7, 1944 the Champlin again distinguished itself with the sinking of the German submarine U-856 in the North Atlantic just east of New York. However, the cost included the USS Champlin’s commanding officer, Commander John J. Shaffer III, who was wounded by shrapnel in the attack and passed away the following morning after surgery.
Starting from January 6, 1945, the Champlin again set sail as an Atlantic convoy escort, this time to Oran to join the convoy bringing President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Malta for the Yalta Conference. In June of 1945, the Champlin passed the Panama Canal to partake in the attack on Wake Island in August of that very year. The USS Champlin continued on to Okinawa, Japan to perform local escort and patrol duties before leaving for good in October to take officers back home.
On March 28, 1946, the USS Champlin was placed in reserve at Charleston, South Carolina and was decommissioned on January 31, 1947. Years later (May 8, 1972), the Champlin 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.