USS Dukes County LST-735
Exclusively designed for the US Navy, the LST–735 was 100 meters in length and possessed a speed of 12 knots, or 14 mph. Dravo Corp. from Neville Island, the manufacturer of the LST-735, laid down the ship at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 30, 1944. Later in the same year, in March 11, 1944 the ship was launched and sponsored by Mrs. G. W. Fearnside. With its first commander, Lieutenant Theodore F. Aldous, the LST-735 was commissioned at New Orleans, Louisiana on April 26, 1944.
Action in World War II
Initially, the LST-735 was travelled the Asiatic-Pacific where it was involved in the capturing and occupying of Saipan in the month of August 1944. In January 1945, the ship also actively participated in operations in Zambales, Subic Bay, Lingayen Gulf, and Okinawa Gunto.
Action in the Korean War
The LST-735 was decommissioned in 1946 and re-commissioned in November 1950. The LST-735 served with Commander Marin Forces in the Pacific as a minesweeper support ship. Further Western Pacific tours were also made from 1953-1954 and 1955-1956.
After the War
After being renamed the USS Dukes County (LST-735), the ship was once again decommissioned and then leased to Taiwan in the month of May 1957. Taiwan then changed the name of the ship to Chung Hai (LST-219). It was in 1974 that Taiwan officially purchased and renamed the ship (KAO Hsiung AGC-1). For her services and active participation in various operations, the naval vessel, LST-735, earned four battle stars for World War II and three for the Korean War.
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.