Originally named the USS Biddle DD-955, the Charles F Adams-class guided missile destroyer was built by the New York Shipping Corporation at Camden, New Jersey. The Navy commissioned the USS Biddle on May 5, 1962 under the command of Commander Paul Roth. The Navy renamed her Claude V. Ricketts on July 28, 1964 in honor of Admiral Claude Ricketts, who had died that year. The ship displaced 3,277 tons and a crew of 354, reaching a top speed of 33 knots with a range of 4,500 nautical miles.
The Ricketts was used as an experimental part of a special multilateral force (MLF) from June of 1964 to the end of 1965. The crew consisted of ten US. Naval officers and 164 enlisted from the US. Navy, while the rest of the crew was composed of sailors from the following countries: West Germany, Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Turkey. Although the naval force never got off the ground, the Secretary of the Navy at the time, Paul Nitze, declared the project on the Ricketts to be a success. The ship’s crest has the NATO insignia in it, symbolic of the multi-nation crew.
On November 22 1975 the USS John F. Kennedy collided with the guided missile cruiser USS Belknap. The Ricketts came to the rescue to help battle the flames and serve as a base of operations to fight the fires. She tied up alongside the Belknap and helped the Belknap put out fires, which included exploding ammunition and magazines. In the end, the fierce flames had melted the superstructure down to the next level above the main deck. The fire claimed the lives of seven crew members aboard the Belknap and one from the Kennedy.
The Navy decommissioned the Claude V. Ricketts on October 31, 1989 at Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk, Virginia. The Navy struck her name from the Naval Vessel Register on June 1, 1990 and sold her for scrap on April 15, 1994.
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.