The USS Cogswell, a Fletcher-class destroyer, received nine battle stars for service in World War II. The ship also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was named for James Kelsey Cogswell and his son Francis Cogswell. James Cogswell served as Rear Admiral during the Spanish-American War. Francis Cogswell received the Navy Cross for his distinguished service as Captain during World War I.
Action in World War II
Bath Iron Works launched the destroyer in Maine on June 5, 1943. Commander H. K. Deutermann led the Cogswell to Pearl Harbor for training. The ship arrived on December 9, 1943. It screened Task Force 58 for operations in the Marshall Islands, Truk, the Marianas, and other islands. The destroyer then joined in the bombardment of Guam but returned to screen its force during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on June 19th and 20th. The destroyer sank several Japanese ships in early August before being replenished in the Marshall Islands.
When the Cogswell returned to sea, it screened carriers during the invasion of Peleliu in August and September of 1944. On October 6th, the ship sailed toward Japan in preparation for the Leyte landings. It escorted the stricken Canberra and Houston before moving on to screen carriers during the Battle of Surigao Strait, a key part of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. The Cogswell next guarded the stricken Reno to safety and then returned to screen air strikes that neutralized Japanese bases. The Cogswell returned to the U.S. for an overhaul in January of 1945.
When the Cogswell again set sail, it headed for Okinawa and arrived on May 27, 1945. It served as a radar picket until June 26th. On June 29th, the Cogswell rejoined the Task Force for raids against Japanese islands until the country surrendered. The Cogswell arrived in Tokyo Bay on September 2 for the surrender ceremonies. The ship was decommissioned in 1946.
After the War
The USS Cogswell was re-commissioned on January 7, 1951. It first served with the Atlantic Fleet, cruising ports in northern Europe and taking part in NATO operations. In 1953, the ship passed through the Panama Canal to patrol the Taiwan Straits. The ship then joined the Pacific Fleet in December of 1954. From that year until 1963, the Cogswell alternated tours of duty with the Pacific Fleet and the 7th Fleet. The crew took part in nuclear weapons tests near Johnston Island.
The Cogswell was decommissioned in 1969 and was given to the Turkish Navy.
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.