The USS De Haven was launched from the Bath Iron Works in June of 1942. She was commissioned later on the same year in the month of September and placed under the command of Commander C.E. Tolman. The De Haven then headed out from Norfolk Navy Yard and steamed towards the Tonga Islands and reached her destination in November.
Action in World War II
She was mainly assigned to escort the convoys of troop transports that were bound to relieve the Marines on Guadalcanal who had been on the island since August. The De Haven then screened the transports that ferried in supplies to the area in December of this same year. She was eventually assigned to patrol duty in the South Solomons, where she became part of the effort to stop the Tokyo Express, the nightly supply shipments to Japanese troops occupying the islands. She bombarded the island of Kolombangara twice in January of 1943.
Destruction at Guadalcanal
In February of 1943 the De Haven escorted some of the landing craft tanks (LCTs) and seaplane tenders that were establishing a beachhead at Marovo. She was warned of an incoming air attack and her crew sighted nine planes that were heading towards her and the ships she was escorting. Six of those nine swung directly at the De Haven. She managed to shoot down three of those planes, but not before they dropped their bombs. The De Haven took three of those six bombs in a hit.
One of those that did not hit her directly was close enough that it caused damage to the ship. The commanding officer of the De Haven and most of the bridge crew were killed instantly when the superstructure was hit head-on by one of the bombs. She ended up sinking two miles from Savo Island. Some of the survivors of her crew rescued by the LCT, but she lost 167 men. She received one battle star for her service
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.