USS Chandler DDG-996 (1982-1999)
USS Chandler was the final Kidd-class guided-missile destroyer of the United States Navy. She was 563 feet long and intended for air defense in hot weather. The name of the Chandler comes from World War II Rear Admiral Theodore Chandler.
Her keel was laid in 1979 and she was originally named Andushirvan. She was initially built for Iran, but not delivered due to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The Shah of Iran ordered the four Kidd-class destroyers for air defense in the Persian Gulf. However, the Shah was overthrown before Iran could accept delivery of the ships. As a result, the destroyers were claimed by the United States Navy and joined their fleet.
The warship was launched in 1980, being commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1982 and renamed the USS Chandler. The Chandler’s home port was in Everett, Washington. Chandler spent most of her deployments in the Arabian Gulf. The ship was well-suited to the warm climate because she was outfitted with heavy-duty air conditioning.
On the Columbia River in 1985, the destroyer was involved in an accident when a barge owner said that the Chandler was travelling too fast and caused a dangerous swell, called a soliton. The barge owner claimed that the Chandler was negligent and caused damage to their vessel. The barge owner, Bernert Towboat Co, sued the Chandler, although the U.S. government countered by claiming that the plaintiff’s vessel was not seaworthy and the damage resulted because the ship was in poor condition.
The District Court of Oregon decided that the Chandler officers did not exercise reasonable care to avoid creating the dangerous swell. The court concluded that the Chandler was travelling too fast and caused damage to the other ship. The Bernert Towboat Co was awarded damages by the government after suing under the Admiralty Law.
Chandler was decommissioned in 1999. Along with the other three Kidd class destroyers, Chandler was sold and transferred to the Republic of China in 2003. The ship was renamed Wu Teh in 2004, then in 2006 she was re-commissioned as Ma Kong (DDG-1805).
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.