USS Colahan DD-658 (1943-1966)

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The USS Colahan was a destroyer that saw action in World War II, the Korean War, and during the Berlin Wall Crisis. It was a Fletcher-class ship built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and launched on May 3, 1943 at Stanton Island, NY. Its keel was laid on October 24 1942.  The Colahan was commissioned by the Navy on August 23, 1943.

The USS Colahan was named after long time Navy man Commander Charles E. Colahan and the ship was sponsored by Mrs. P. C. Hinkamp, the niece of Commander Colahan.

Action in World War II

The Colahan was assigned to the 52nd task force and assisted with the attack on the Marshall Islands.  On May 31, 1944, the Colahan sailed to join the 5th Fleet. It supported the invasion of Guam by shore bombardment, fire support, and radar picketing alongside the Fleet during July and August. In September, it supported air strikes during the invasion of the south side of Palaus.

The Colahan then provided cover for the Leyte assault in October by strikes on Formosa and the Nansei Shoto. It supported the fleet in the Philippines until US troops landed on October 20, 1944. It assisted Fleet ships in chasing Japanese ships after the Battle of Leyte Bay and patrolled the area around the Philippines until December 1944. After riding out a typhoon that severely damaged the US Fleet, the ship put into Ulithi for repairs.

On December 31 through the end of January 1945, the Colahan supported the 3rd fleet during strikes on Formosa, Luzon, Hong Kong, and the Hainian Islands which took place during the Battle of Lingayen. The Colahan then assisted the 58th task force in attacks of various Japanese targets. This included air strikes on Tokyo and the attack of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. It acted as radar picket for the task force during the assault on Onkinawa and rescued survivors from the Hazelwood after it was attacked by a kamikaze at the end of April. Joining the task group after repairs, the Colahan supported attacks in June on the Japanese home islands by guarding Tokyo Bay. Leaving Tokyo Bay at the end of the war, the Colahan returned to San Diego where on June 14, 1946 it was decommissioned.

Action in the Korean War

On December 16, 1950, the Colahan was re-commissioned to support the 7th Fleet during the Korean War. Leaving its home port of San Diego on August 20, 1951, it assisted the Korean War effort with fire support and shore bombardment. It also underwent antisubmarine training in Okinawa, returning to its home port in March.  On November 1, 1952, it returned to the 7th Fleet and supported the Fleet by attacking Korean targets and patrolling the area around Okinawa.

After the War

The Colahan returned home on June 1, 1953. During 1954 to 1957, it patrolled with the 7th Fleet in the Pacific. In 1958, the Colahan was assigned to patrol the west coast of the United States with the Naval Reserve.

In August 1961, the Colahan was called to its last active duty assignment in support of the Berlin Wall Crisis. The Colahan supported the Navy in the Western Pacific and assisted with delivery of weapons to South Vietnam before returning home in June 1962. It was reassigned to the Naval Reserve. On August 1, 1966, the Colahan was decommissioned for the final time. It was sunken as target practice off the coast of California on December 18, 1966.

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.


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