USS Colhoun DD 801 (1944-1945)

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The USS Colhoun was named for the deceased Rear Admiral Edmund Ross Colhoun, a veteran of the Mexican and American Civil Wars. The Colhoun was launched on the 10th of April, 1944 by the Todd-Pacific Shipbuilding Corporation of Seattle, Washington. It was commissioned on the 8th of July, 1944, with Commander G. R. Wilson in command. It served in the Pacific from 1944, participating in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa before falling to damage in the line of duty in 1945.

Action in World War II

The Colhoun began its duty in Pearl Harbor on the 10th of October, 1944 with patrol and training before pulling support duty off of Iwo Jima in February 1945. Its responsibilities included screening transports, radar picketing, and providing fire support for the invasion. On the 1st of March in the same year, it suffered damage and one casualty from enemy shore batteries.

The Colhoun put in for repairs at Saipan, and then resumed radar picket duty off of Okinawa on the 31st of March. Responding to a request from help from the USS Bush (DD 529), the Colhoun placed itself between the crippled vessel and attacking suicide planes, successfully downing three before sustaining a kamikaze strike itself. The strike took out a 40 mm mount, scattered flaming wreckage across the deck, and delivered a bomb into the aft fire room.

The Colhoun continued its defense through two more consecutive waves of suicide planes, taking more damage from additional strikes. The first of these broke the Colhoun’s keel, blew a four foot hole below the waterline, and pierced its boilers, forcing the crew to operate the guns manually. A lone bomb from the third wave skipped off its deck and detonated overboard, creating a three foot hole that caused further flooding.

The attack culminated in a final blow to the ship’s bridge. A skeleton crew was left aboard the vessel while an attempt was made to tow it to Okinawa; however heavy flooding, listing and fire rendered it impossible to save.

The Colhoun was scuttled by the Cassin Young with a total of 32 killed and 23 wounded (two of whom died from their injuries). The Colhoun received one battle star for its service in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

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.


Naval Historical Center

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