The USS Chew was named after Samuel Chew (1750-1778), who fought for the U.S. in command of the Continental Brigantine Resistance. The ship was constructed by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. It was put in commission on December 12th, 1918, and sponsored by Mrs. F. X. Gygax. Commander J. H. Klein, Jr. was chosen to captain the ship.
Nine days after commissioning, on December 21st 1918, the Chew made its way to the east coast, arriving in Newport on January 10th, 1919. It got some minor repairs done, and then went to Guantanamo Bay for some refresher training. On the 28th of April, it sailed out of New York to help out during the first historic transatlantic seaplane flight. It then was sent to Malta, Gibraltar, Azores, and Constantinople. It went home to New York on June 5th. It ended up needing more repairs, but was sent to San Diego, California on September 17th. It reached this base on the 12th of October. It was in partial reserve, or reduced commission, starting on November 19th 1919. It was eventually decommissioned on June 1st, 1922.
Action in World War II
Assigned to Defense Force, 14th Naval District and re-commissioned on October 14th 1940, it made its way to Pearl Harbor and arrived there on December 17th, 1940. This was its new home port, and its duties included training and patrols until the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. It was in port at the time and fired on Japanese planes. It downed one plane and hit two more. Immediately after the attack was over, it went on patrol, depth-charging 8 different enemies. The Chew rescued the crew of the Pennsylvania BB-38, during which two of its crew were killed.
After the War
After the Pearl Harbor patrols were over, the Chew remained there for patrol, submarine training, and inter-island escort. Very infrequently, it would go to Seattle and San Francisco as a screening ship or an escort. It was sent to Philadelphia on August 21st 1945, and arrived on September 13th. It was put out-of-commission on October 15th 1945, and sold for scrap on October 4th, 1946.
The Chew was awarded one battle star for service during the war.
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.