The USS David R. Ray, created by Ingalls Shipbuilding, was commissioned on November, 19th 1977. The ship’s first voyage was to its homeport in San Diego. The ship was then nicknamed “The Sting Ray.” The Sting Ray was the first ship of its time to intercept a supersonic drone with its state of the art RIM-7 Seasparrow Missile System.
Immediately after its first deployment, the David R. Ray visited many locations including Pearl Harbor, Guam, Yokosuka, Inchon, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong. The ship began another WESTPAC mission to the West Pacific and Indian Ocean in 1983. After the ship’s port visits, it proceeded to participate in U.S.-Thailand naval exercises. The ship once spent 54 days operating on a SURVOPS mission on the newest Soviet carrier, the “Novorossiysk.”
Later in its life, it became the Navy’s primary test platform for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System. On May 12th, 1982 the ship made world news headlines when it prevented the boarding of the U.S. , the President McKinley, by an Iranian Saam-class frigate.
The ship underwent a major overhaul in 1988, causing its shift in location from San Diego to Longbeach, California. The David R. Ray received even more state-of-the-art equipment, including a vertical launch system. The David R. Ray was also present in the Persian Gulf at the onset of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in April of 1990. The ship is also credited for playing a major role in the early stages of Operation Desert Shield before returning to the United States.
It deployed again on April, 12 1992 to the Middle East Force to serve as a flagship during Maritime Interception Force Operations for seven months. The ship also served as a flagship vessel for the Destroyer Squadron 50. Upon its return in 1995, the David R. Ray maintained a constant state of operation. In July 1996, after the ships third major overhaul a home-port change to Everett, Washington occurred.
The ship was deployed to the Persian Gulf on PACMEF 99-2 as the Surface Action Group Commander in April of 1999. After reaching world news headlines again for saving a baby Iraqi girl, the ship returned to its home-port on October, 4th 1999. The USS David R. Ray was then decommissioned and spent the remainder of its years anchored in Sinclair Inlet located on Highway 303 in Bremerton, Washington. The ship was then destroyed during RIMPAC on July, 11 2008.
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.