The Sumner-class destroyer USS Collett, named after Lieutenant John A. Collett, was commissioned in May of 1944.
Action in World War II
The Collett was immediately assigned to the Pacific Fleet and made its way first to Pearl Harbor and then to Ulithi in late 1944. It remained there at Ulithi for the rest of the war, working to screen the First Carrier Task Force. It was briefly involved in several air raids, including those on Luzon and Formosa, although it managed to sustain no damages even while sailing dangerously close to several Japanese strike targets and lending air cover for the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. It performed in the bombardment of Okino Daito Shima and helped to sink Japanese submarines in April and July of the same year.
After the War
The Collett continued with its active duty with the Pacific Fleet until 1960, well after the conclusion of World War II. In that time, it took part in both local operations as well as voyages along the coast and several tours in the Far East, its first journey in 1946.
Action in the Korean War
The Collett was there at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, where it then traveled to Inchon in June to prepare for pre-invasion bombardment and gunfire support after the commencement of the invasions. Despite facing some injury at the hands of enemy fire, it also took part in the Wonsan Landings in October of 1950, and returned to San Diego in November.
After close to seven months in the United States, the Collett returned to Korea in June of 1951 and stayed until February of 1952, conducting air strikes, helping with training, and patrolling the area. It repeated these duties on its third tour in Korea, which took place from August of 1952 to April of 1953.
After the War
After the Korean War drew to a close, the Collett took several more tours of duty in the Far East from 1954 to 1959 before returning to the U.S. to undergo modernization procedures in 1960. Unfortunately, in July, it collided with the USS Ammen, severely damaging its bow as well as killing and injuring members of the Ammen’s crew. Its bow was replaced and it served on intermittent coastal operations later that year.
In 1974, it was sold to Argentina and was commissioned by their Navy in 1977 as ARA Piedra Buena. It was officially decommissioned in 1985 and sunken in a missile exercise in 1988.
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.