The Edwards was a Gleaves-class destroyer. It was built in Kearney, New Jersey with a displacement of 1,630 tons. It was 348’4″ long with a beam of 36’1″ and a draft of 17’5″. The Edwards could reach speeds of up to 37 knots. It was built to be a warship with its four 5″, and five 21″ torpedo tubes. It was also equipped with 6 depth charge projectors, and two depth charge tracks.
The Edwards was awarded 14 battle stars for its service in World War II. It served under the command of Lieutenant Commander W.L. Messner. It was officially commissioned on 18 September 1942, and was sponsored by Mrs. Edward Brayton, the widow of Lt. Commander Edwards.
Action in World War II
On 8 November 1942, the Edwards joined the Pacific Fleet after it acted as an escort along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. In November of 1942, it was sent to fight against the Japanese in the Pacific. It joined Task Force 18 at Noumea on 4 January 1943. Later that month, on 29 January 1943 it was attacked by a swarm of Japanese bombers.
The 1943 attack by the Japanese forced the Edwards to witness the USS Chicago go down. It rescued 224 from the sea. On 27 March 1943, it was dispatched to Pearl Harbor for an overhaul. After it was deemed fit and ready it was then sent to the Aleutians to become part of the campaign to regain Attu and Kiska. This was on 15 April 1943. It was also part of the last battle of Guadalcanal in January 1943, the air-sea battle of Rennell Island.
The Edwards served many subsequent escort duties in 1943, and patrol duties in the Central Pacific. It aided in the sinking of a Japanese submarine, I-31 in May of 1943. The USS Edwards was decommissioned on 11 April 1946.
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.