USS Dixie AD-14 (1939-1982)
The USS Dixie AD-14 was the second naval ship to bear this name, a destroyer tender launched in May of 1939 by New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. Sponsored by Mrs. A.C. Pickins, she was commissioned in April of 1940 with Lieutenant Commander G.H. Bahm in command.
Service in World War II
The Dixie’s first assignment after leaving Norfolk, Virginia was to service the Battle Force destroyers near Pearl Harbor. By October, she was back at Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul and was there when the Japanese attacked on December 7th. The Dixie was finally able to return to service in Pearl Harbor by March of 1942, where she remained until November.
Her next task was to support operations around the Solomon Islands, based at Hathorn Sound. For the remainder of World War II, the Dixie served at the fleet based at Ulithe then moved on to Leyte until the war’s end. Serving ships on occupation duty at Shanghi and Okinawa, the Dixie finally returned to the west coast at the end of 1945.
After World War II
The Dixie was next involved in Operations Crossroads, sailing to the Bikini Atoll for atomic warfare experiments. In 1947 and again in 1949, the Dixie was based at Tsingtao, cruising the waters of the Far East to serve naval destroyers patrolling the Chinese coast. When the Communist advance forced the evacuation of all Americans from the Chinese mainland, the Dixie was the final U.S. Naval vessel to leave Chinese waters. Sailing to Hong Kong, the Dixie served as headquarters for the American consul there.
Service in the Korean Conflict
Ensuing active duty included stints serving flagship duty, Far Eastern Tours, and operations near the Philippine Islands. In addition, the Dixie aided vessels of the United Nations off the coast of Korea and was actively involved in numerous Korean War campaigns, including the first UN Counter Offensive in 1951 through May of 1953. During 1959 and also 1960, the Dixie provided tender facilities for the 7th Fleet serving in the Far East. The Dixie was awarded a total of five battle stars for her service during the Korean conflict.
The Dixie received a special honor in 1981 as the first U.S. Navy vessel to be awarded the First Navy Jack as the naval vessel with the longest service to that military branch. The following June, she was decommissioned and struck from the Register of Naval Vessels, then transferred for layup in the Naval Reserve Defense Fleet in Benecia, California. In February of 1983, she was sold for scrapping and towed to Taiwan for final dismantling.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed 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.