The USS Drayton was a Mahan-class destroyer that was built in Bath, Maine. It was commissioned in September of 1936 and visited Europe while it was on its shakedown cruise. It was sent to the Pacific in June of 1937 to join in the search efforts for Amelia Earhart. Afterwards, it trained along the West Coast and in the waters of Hawaii, with its home fleet in Pearl Harbor.
Action in World War II
When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, the Drayton was out at sea with the aircraft carrier, the Lexington. During the first months of the war, it escorted ships to Christmas Island and Fiji and served as one of the screening ships for the aircraft carrier the Enterprise when it raided islands in the central Pacific. The Drayton had an over overhaul in Mare Island, but returned to Hawaii later that year. It traveled to the South Pacific to join in the fight for Guadalcanal and took action against the Japanese forces that were present in the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and the Bismarcks. Though its main duty was escorting ships, it also helped in the bombing of shore facilities.
The Drayton underwent a second overhaul for war duty on Mare Island until June of 1944. It trained in Hawaii again before going to the Marshall Islands for patrol. The destroyer was sent on to the Philippines in support of the Leyte campaign. While there it was damaged by the suicide attacks, claiming the lives of six of its crew members. It was active in efforts to take back the Philippines by helping with several of the landings of shore-bound troops. Before the end of the war, the Drayton was sent back to New York. It was decommissioned in 1945 and then a year later sold for scrap.
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.