Dennis J. Buckley served around the globe from 1944 until 1960. The Gearing-class destroyer was named for Dennis J. Buckley, a naval fireman. The serviceman was posthumously awarded the Navy’s Silver Star for attempting to board an intercepted blade runner, the crew of which took his life. The vessel was commissioned in March of 1945 and was reclassified as DDR-808 four years later.
Action in World War II
Bath Iron Works of Maine launched the destroyer on December 20, 1944. The ship sailed from Norfolk in early November of 1945 and arrived in Tokyo Bay on December 22. During this first tour of duty, Dennis J. Buckley (DD-808) operated in the Marianas Islands and stopped at Manila. The ship returned to the western coast of the U.S. in the spring of 1946.
In 1947, during a second tour of duty, the Dennis J. Buckley cruised off the coast of China and took part in operations off Okinawa. The ship returned to China in October of 1948 for patrol. The Buckley then continued a world tour, sailing past Singapore, Bahrain, and Port Said, joining ships in Athens, and stopping in Istanbul.
After the War
The ship briefly docked in New York on February 22, 1949. Dennis J. Buckley then departed on March 1 for operations on the west coast and exercises in the Caribbean. The destroyer next moved up the eastern seaboard from Norfolk to Newfoundland and sailed to the Mediterranean to briefly join the 6th Fleet.
The crew returned to Newport in October and resumed local and Caribbean operations. The Buckley then toured northern Europe for much of 1951, visiting England, Ireland, Belgium, and Germany. Next, from 1952 to 1955, the Dennis J. Buckley completed three Mediterranean tours. There the vessel functioned as a gunnery and training ship for destroyer officers.
The destroyer joined the Pacific Fleet in May of 1956, arriving in California in late June. One tour of duty left Long Beach on July 9 and returned on October 21. The Buckley then embarked on its second tour in the Far East, patrolling off Taiwan in 1957. The ship was also critical to resupplying Chinese nationalists who were defending the Quemoy Islands against the Communist threat.
Buckley returned to Long Beach in February of 1959 and then sailed the western Pacific again until mid-October. The crew returned to Long Beach in March of 1960 and remained on local duty for the remainder of the year. The ship then became inactive and was decommissioned in 1973.
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.