USS Cowell (DD-547) (1943-1971)

The USS Cowell was a Fletcher-class destroyer, built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in San Pedro, California. It was named after John. G. Cowell, an officer in the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812. The Powell was commissioned on August 23rd, 1943 under the command of Commander C.W. Parker.

Action in World War II

After leaving from San Pedro on October 28, 1943, the Powell arrived in its home port of Pearl Harbor on November 2nd, having been assigned to the Fast Carrier Task Force. Its duties from the 10th of November to December 13th included protecting aircraft carriers as they attacked the Gilbert Islands. Later that year and in January of 1944, it also participated in operations at Kavieng, New Ireland, and on the islands of Kwajalein, Ebeye, and Eniwetok. After returning briefly to Pearl Harbor in February of 1944 to restock its supplies, the Cowell joined Task Force 58 for their strikes on Palau, Yap, and Ulithi from March 30th to April 1st. The Cowell also participated in the Marianas operation, where it served to protect the carriers of the battle group. On August 29th, 1944, the USS Cowell was reassigned to Task Group 36.5, which was ordered to conduct strikes on the western Caroline Islands, the Philippines, and the Palaus. It also supported air strikes on Okinawa on October 2nd, 1944 in order to help allied forces prepare for the Leyte assault. During the strike, two ships, the Canberra and the Houston, were struck by torpedoes. The Cowell assisted the stricken ships by providing power and pumping facilities. On March 27th, 1945, after being overhauled in Seattle, the Cowell was deployed to Saipan, where it participated in the invasion of Okinawa. It covered the initial diversionary landings on April 1st, and then joined the radar picket line, where it warned the fleet of incoming kamikaze strikes. Its service on the picket line earned the ship a Presidential Unit Citation. After the battle, the Cowell sailed for San Diego, where after pre-inactivation overhaul it was decommissioned and placed in the reserve fleet on July 22nd, 1946.

After the War

The Cowell was re-commissioned on September 21st, 1951, and it served in the Korean War for a brief period. On August 17th, 1971 it was placed out of commission again and sold to the Argentine Navy.

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. References: