The USS Chauncey was a Fletcher-class destroyer named for Commodore Isaac Chauncey. Chauncey served the Navy for 42 years and was considered a hero of the War of 1812. The ship named for him was built in Kearney, New Jersey and weighed 2,050 tons.
Action in World War II
It was sent to serve in the Pacific in 1943 as part of the task force of aircraft carriers that conducted a raid of Wake Island in October of that year. Next, the Chauncey participated in air raids on a Japanese base, after which it went east as an escort to the carriers when they invaded the Gilbert Islands and conducted strikes on the Marshalls. In January through July of 1944 it again accompanied the carriers on several other missions to capture such targets as Guam, Saipan, and Northern New Guinea. In the invasion on Guam, the Chauncey bombarded targets on land with its guns.
By October of 1944, the Chauncey was escorting transport ships to and from the invasion area at Leyte. It was overhauled at a west coast shipyard late in 1944 to early in 1945 and then returned to the Pacific as part of the campaign known as Ryukyus. In this campaign, the Chauncey joined up with Task Force 58 when it conducted air strikes in March against the home islands of Japan. It later was sent to Okinawa on bombardment and escort missions.
Later, the USS Chauncey met up with the faster aircraft carriers for more air raids on Japan in the last months of the war in the Pacific. It stayed on in Japan for several months on occupation duty and then returned to San Diego, California. It was decommissioned in December of 1945.
Action in the Korean War
The USS Chauncey was re-commissioned in July of 1950 with the onset of the Korean War. It was assigned for service on the east coast of the United States and Caribbean as part of the Pacific Fleet. It was not until January of 1953 that the Chauncey headed east to participate in combat operations connected to the Korean War. It came back to the U.S. in June of the same year via the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This completed a total circumnavigation of the earth.
In May of 1954, the USS Chauncey was decommissioned again and stayed a part of the Reserve Fleet. It was taken off of the Naval Vessel Register in 1972 and scrapped in 1974.
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.