USS Du Pont DD-941 (1957-1983)
The 2,800 ton USS Du Pont DD-941 had a length of 407 feet and was capable of traveling at 32.5 knots. It could complement a total of 15 officers and 218 enlisted men. The Forrest Sherman-class destroyer was built by Bath Iron works located in Bath, Maine. It was commissioned July 1, 1957 and sailed under the leadership of Commander W.J. Maddocks.
After some initial cruises, the Du Pont left September 2, 1958 for its first tour of duty. It joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. There it joined in on an air defense and antisubmarine warfare program. It returned to Norfolk on March 12 to prepare for Operation Inland Seas. This was a historic occasion as it was the first passage of a naval task force into the Great Lakes via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The Du Pont escorted HMY Britannia with Queen Elizabeth II on board during the dedication ceremonies held on June 26.
In September and October of the following year, the Du Pont sailed to Southampton, England. There it served as plane guard for the transatlantic flight of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The following January it sailed from Norfolk for a second tour of duty, once again with the 6th Fleet. It returned in August where it underwent an overhaul at the Naval Shipyard.
The Du Pont won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet. In 1979 it was relocated to the Bethlehem Steel Works Ship Yard located in Hoboken, New Jersey. It once again underwent a major overhaul. Finally, in 1980 it was ready for sailing.
It left for Norfolk and then headed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The crew participated in simulated training. As a result they were rewarded by receiving three of the Battle “E’s.” In 1981 it headed to the Middle East. The Du Pont was assigned to the Nimitz battle group. It remained on patrol in the Persian Gulf after American hostages, held in Iran, had been released. In 1982, it was assigned to assist Israel following the confrontation between the Israeli forces and the Palestine Liberation Organization. It was stationed off the coast of Lebanon for a longer period of time than any other U.S. Navy ship.
The USS Du Pont DD-941 was decommissioned on March 4, 1983. On February 10, 1999 it was sold for scrap to International Shipbreaking Limited located in Brownsville, Texas.
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.