USS Charrette DD-581 (1943-1991)

The USS Charrette was named in honor of George Charrette (1867-1938). He was enlisted in the navy and served during the Spanish-American war, later receiving the congressional medal of honor for his actions.

Action in World War II

The Charrette was commissioned on May 18, 1943 and took part in air raids on Japanese bases in the Marshall islands. Its air raids also successfully neutralized air opposition at the Makin and Tarawa landings. On November 26, 1943, the Charrette was assigned to cover Makin and Tarawa air space to provide protection for the Marines ashore. The Charrette screened battleships in an attack on Nauru twelve days later, and then rejoined carriers heading to Efate. The carriers continued north to prepare for operations at the Marshall Islands. On the night of February 4, 1944, the Charrette won Majuro Lagoon by sinking submarine 1-21 with a depth charge. The Charrette sailed on February 12 in a series of raids on the Japanese base at Truk, eventually preventing it from contributing to the Pacific war. After stopping briefly in Pearl Harbor for an overhaul, the Charrette set off to aid carriers in attacks on Japanese ships which were fleeing from Truk to Palaus, a preliminary for the New Guinea Operation. The Charrette was part of a force headed for New Guinea on March 22, and eventually it contributed to attacks on New Guinea itself. On June 6, 1944, the Charrette sailed for the Marianas Operation, in which it supported carriers and their strikes on Saipan, Guam, and Rota. On June 19, the air battle over the Philippine Sea broke out, and the Charrette continued with protecting planes, antiaircraft firing, and screening throughout the 2-day affair. On the night of June 20, the Charrette rescued stranded aviators who were forced to abandon their planes because of lack of gasoline. On June 21, the carrier forces fell back to cover the invasion of the Marianas, resulting in many strikes on Guam, Rota, and bases on the Pagan Islands. In late 1944, the Charrette assisted in many battles in the Philippines against Japanese airfields, including the Battle for Leyte Gulf, a major turning point in the war which mainly ended the Japanese Navy as a fighting force.

After the War

Later, the Charrette served in the Greek Navy from 1959 to1991. It was converted into a museum, under its new name, the Velos, and is anchored in the park of Maritime Tradition near Athens. It is still regarded to be in commission.

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.