USS Conolly DD-979 (1978-1998)

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The Conolly was a naval destroyer built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries. The name of the ship came from Admiral Richard Lansing Conolly USN. The destroyer was built in Pascagoula, MS and commissioned 14 October 1978.

The Conolly became part of the Middle East Force in August 1980. The ship was sent to the Mediterranean Sea in September 1982. The Conolly joined other naval vessels from South America in an exercise named UNITAS XXI in June 1983.

The Conolly left South America for Africa to participate in a West African Training Cruise in November 1983. The destroyer arrived in Norfolk, Virginia in December 1983. On the way from Brazil, the  Conolly became the first Spruance-class ship to complete a transfer of fuel at sea.

The Conolly went to Portland, ME in February 1984 for service and repair. During this time, the Tomahawk Weapons System and other new weapons were installed.  In 1985, the Conolly rejoined the Middle East Force. The ship also operated there in 1987,1989, and 1992.

The Conolly became part of Operation Support Democracy in 1993. The purpose of this operation was to enforce United Nations sanctions against Haiti.  In 1994, the Conolly went to the Arabian Peninsula to help enforce sanctions against Iraq. It rescued 62 Egyptians from a burning ferry that same year.

The Conolly escorted three other naval vessels to join the JTF Assured Response for training. During this deployment, the Conolly was sent to search for a plane that had crashed. United States Commerce Department Secretary Ron Brown was on this plane. The Conolly also was involved in Operation Sharp Guard. This deployment was to ensure that United Nations Security Council resolutions were being obeyed. The Conolly was given the task of making sure that merchant ships were not bringing contraband into the area.

The Conolly joined Exercise Tapon 96 in June of 1996. This assignment took place in the Alboran Sea, the Gulf of Cadiz, and the Atlantic Ocean and lasted nine days. The ship next participated in a torpedo firing exercise near Sicily.

The Conolly was decommissioned on September 18, 1998 and stored at the Philadelphia Naval Intermediate Ship Maintenance Facility.  It was sunken on April 29, 2009 while being used in training.

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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