The USS Cumming was a Mahan-class destroyer built in New York City and commissioned in November of 1936. The ship served in the Atlantic and Pacific in the fall of 1937 for fleet training. Except for one trip to the Caribbean, the Cumming remained in the Pacific Ocean for the next six years, mainly near Hawaii.
Action in World War II
The Cummings was present when the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard was attacked in December 1941, but was pressed into service almost immediately as an escort for the convoys between the mainland and the islands. In May of 1942, it served as a patrol and escort ship for the Guadalcanal Campaign. It was overhauled in the fall of 1943 and relocated to the Alaskan theater.
In early 1944, the Cummings screened for aircraft carriers in the Marshalls campaign. It operated with the British Navy in the Indian Ocean until May of that year, when returned to Hawaii as an escort for the heavy cruiser, the Baltimore, while it carried the president to Hawaii and Alaska and then back to the U.S. mainland. The president often boarded the Cummings for trips in Washington.
The Cummings participated in a raid on escort aircraft carriers during the Leyte invasion. Then it headed to the Marianas and Bonin Islands area taking on the role of a patrol ship in search of downed pilots. The Cummings also participated in the invasion of Iwo Jim in February and March of 1945. It supervised the occupation of Haha Jima after Japan surrendered, then returned to the U.S. East Coast where it was decommissioned in December of 1945. It was removed from the roster and sold for scrap in 1947.
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.