USS Conner DD-582 (1943-1959)
The USS Conner was a 2,050 ton Fletcher-class destroyer named in admiration of Commodore David Conner (1792-1856), who guided U.S. Naval forces throughout the first part of the Mexican War. Built at the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned in June 1943, it went to the Pacific just in time to join in the early October invasion on Wake Island and the Gilberts campaign in November.
Action in World War II
During the remainder of 1943 and the first few weeks of 1944, the Conner barraged Nauru Island and helped carry out air raids on New Ireland. In 1944, it accompanied Task Force 58’s aircraft carriers throughout the Marshalls assault in late January and February, raids in the central Pacific in March and April, the Marianas crusade in June and July, western Pacific attacks in October, and the Leyte campaign towards the end of that month.
The USS Conner played a part in the invasion of Luzon before rolling back to the U.S. West Coast for repair. In May 1945, it returned to the Philippines where it supported land and water operations against Brunei Bay and Balikpapan. This lasted for two months as it continued to maneuver in the region into the month of August. The destroyer was in active service in Korean and Chinese waters from September into December 1945. It then traversed the Pacific to California, where it was put out of service in July 1946.
After the War
In 1959 the Conner took a turn for the bright lights in Hollywood. It was cast in a supporting role of the Blake Edwards comedy Operation Petticoat. The movie was a big success and starred actors Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.
After more than thirteen years in storage, the USS Conner was advanced to Greece in September 1959. Renamed the Aspis and officially sold to Greece in 1977, it joined the nation’s navy until incapacitated in the early 1990s.
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.