The Gearing-class destroyer, the Duncan, was a part of the United States Navy. It was built by the Consolidated Steel Corporation located in Orange, Texas. The 2,425 ton vessel had a length of 390 feet 6 inches, and could travel at a speed of 36.8 knots. It had a complement of 336 officers and enlisted men. The Duncan was commissioned on February 25, 1945. Commander P.D. Williams was its first commander.
The Duncan sailed from Norfolk, arriving in Wake Island on August 1, 1945. Its duties included screening and plane guard duty during strikes. It then headed on to Okinawa where it joined the 7th fleet. There it patrolled off the Korean and Chinese coasts during the landing of troops at Tsingtao, Taku. It then returned to San Diego on April 28, 1946.
The Duncan headed out in May 1947 for a five-month cruise to the Far East. Upon returning to the U.S. it resumed coastal operations with both submarines and aircraft. The following March, it lost two men and found 14 inured as a result of an explosion on board. It returned to Long Beach for repairs before once again joining the fleet for training until the first month of 1949. It then sailed for the western Pacific where it remained for eight months. It then operated between San Diego and Pearl Harbor until November 1950. It entered Korean waters where it joined the 7th Fleet.
Action in the Korean War
The Duncan served for three tours off Korea during the war. It was a plane guard for carriers and an escort for battleships. It fired bombardments from shore in support of mine sweepers and interrupted enemy communications. It also patrolled against North Korean mine sweepers as well as fishing craft.
After the War
When the Korean conflict ended in 1953, the Duncan remained in the Pacific. During the Vietnam War it once again served as plane guard for aircraft carriers on Yankee Station located in the Gulf of Tonkin. It also participated in Operations Sea Dragon and Market Time. It patrolled on various search and rescue duties.
The USS Duncan DD-874 was decommissioned on January 15, 1971. On February 1, 1974 it was removed from the Naval Vessel Register. On July 31, 1980 the Duncan was sunken as a target off the coast of California.
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.