USS Cony DD-508 (1942-1960)
The Cony was a destroyer that operated during World War II and the Korean War, receiving eleven battle stars for service in the former and two for the latter. It was commissioned on October 30th, 1942, under the command of Lieutenant Commander H. D. Johnson.
Action in World War II
The Cony saw its first action on March 6th, 1943, when it joined in the bombardment of the Vila-Stan-More area of New Guinea. After that, the Cony patrolled between Espiritu Santo and Efate. On August 15th, the destroyer provided fire support for the landings on Vella Lavella, and continued patrolling the area until September 8th.
The Cony moved to the Solomon Islands for the rest of September, and then joined in a sweep against Japanese boats evacuating Kolombangara. In October, the Cony covered the landings on the Treasury Islands, but Japanese retaliation resulted in major damage to the destroyer’s main deck and the death of eight of the crew. It was towed to Port Purvis for repairs.
The destroyer did not return to patrolling until March 1944, where it was assigned submarine-hunting duties along the southwest coast of Bougainville. From July to the end of the year, the Cony was involved in numerous operations in the Pacific, helping to bombard coasts as part of pre-invasion preparations and providing fire cover for landings. The Cony joined in during the Battle of Surigao Strait, where it helped sink the Japanese destroyer, the Asagumo.
In the early months of 1945, the Cony patrolled the Lingayen Gulf and provided more fire support and bombardment of the islands. In June, the destroyer covered the landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo, and spent the rest of the month aiding minesweeping operations there and at the mouth of the Yangtze River. This continued until October, when the Cony sailed to Raffles Island to investigate Japanese compliance with surrender terms. During November the destroyer acted as a harbor entrance control ship in Shanghai, then sailed to Taiwan for more minesweeping operations.
After the War
On June 18th, 1946, the Cony was decommissioned and placed in reserve. Three years later, it was reclassified DDE-508 and converted to an escort destroyer specializing in antisubmarine warfare. The Cony operated in the Korea war zone in the summer of 1951, and then spent the rest of the decade taking part in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operations in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. In 1960, it became part of TF Alfa, a tactical group focused on antisubmarine warfare.
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.