The USS Cowie was built at the Boston Navy yard and commissioned on June 1, 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Commander C. J. Whiting.
Action in World War II
The Cowie was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. It escorted the Chenango from New York to Norfolk, Virginia and then took up an antisubmarine patrol near Cape Hatteras. In October, it was sent to North Africa.
In November, off the coast of Safi, French Morocco it screened transports then returned to New York at the end of November for maintenance and repairs. Once the maintenance was completed, it participated in training exercises and then sailed to Casablanca, Morocco twice, escorting convoys. It left North Africa for the east coast of the U.S. in June of 1943. On June 22, it was called upon to support the invading forces at Scoglitti, Sicily.
The Cowie traveled to Oran on July 16 and then provided an escort for local vessels until July 20 when it went to Bizerte to patrol. On July 28th, it went to provide fire support to the Army landing forces at Palermo, Italy. The next month it returned to New York, arriving on August 22.
In September, the Cowie escorted a convoy as it sailed to Belfast, North Ireland. Then it underwent an overhaul in New York. The following year it crossed the Atlantic 18 times, sailing to both the Mediterranean Sea and the United Kingdom. In early May of 1945, it was sent to the Boston Navy Yard to be converted to a high speed minesweeper. The Cowie was re-designated as DMS-39 at the end of May in 1945.
After the War
On June 24, 1945, the Cowie sailed from Boston to join forces who were engaged in minesweeping exercises out of Norfolk. In mid July, it left for San Diego. Once the war ended it left from San Diego on August 29 and headed for Okinawa. Once there, in September, it was involved in minesweeping off the coast of Japan and in the Yellow Sea. The Cowie stayed in the Far East until the next year. On March 25, 1946 it sailed from to San Francisco from Yokosuka.
A year after its arrival in San Francisco, it was decommissioned and placed in the reserves at San Diego in April of 1947. On July 15 of 1955 it was reclassified DD-632.
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.