USS Edsall DD-219 (1920-1942)

The Edsall was commissioned on November 26th, 1920, and backed by Mrs. Bessie Edsall Bracey who was Seaman Edsall’s sister. The destroyer was tested for seaworthiness on December 6th, 1920, and was assigned to San Diego. It arrived at its destination on January 11th, 1921. The ship was involved in battle and gunnery training until it was commanded to the Mediterranean. The Edsall left for duty on May 26th, 1922, it was a part of the U.S. Naval Detachment that was located in Turkish waters.

The Edsall was a key factor in improving international opinion of the US. The ship helped to lessen famine, relocate refuges, and build a communication center. In the meantime the ship was present for emergency situations. During a Turkish attack on Greece, the Edsall was there to evacuate the Greek people who were in danger.

The Edsall was sent to do training exercises in Guantanamo Bay, Pearl Harbor and San Diego. On June 22, 1925, the ship was ordered to Shanghai, and remained there for American support through the civil war that occurred in China. The destroyer was kept busy with training and peacekeeping responsibilities in the cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok and Shanghai.

Action in World War II

The Edsall was prepared for battle when Pearl Harbor was attacked. During World War II the destroyer was the first to sink an enemy submarine. It was damaged during an ambush on February 19, 1942 when one of the Edsall’s depth charges detonated early. Despite the damage the Edsall received, it continued to serve near Java.

By February 26th the destroyer was ordered to join the Langley. They along with the Whipple were attacked by bombers. Unfortunately the Langley suffered immense damage and the personnel aboard were forced to desert it. The Edsall was there to rescue 177 survivors and the Whipple saved 308. On February 28th, 1942, both ships joined the Pecos near Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island. The ships were moving survivors from the Langley when Japanese bombers moved in causing the Edsall to relocate.

While traveling to Tjilatjap, the ship was attacked by two Japanese battleships, the Hiei and the Kirishima. The Edsall was sunken by them on March 1st, 1942. It was honored with 2 battle stars for its efforts in World War II.

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.