The USS Emmons was a 348’ Benson class destroyer that served during World War II. It earned a Navy Unit Commendation and received four battle stars. The vessel was named for George Emmons, a Vermont midshipman who participated in land survey exhibitions and fought in the Mexican and Civil Wars. With the sponsorship of Rear Admiral Emmons’s granddaughter, Bath Iron Works Corporation launched the Emmons in August 1941. The ship was reclassified DMS-22 in November 1944.The Emmons first served in South America, embarking Peruvian officers bound for Chile and stopping at several Ecuadoran ports. The vessel then patrolled waters off the coast of New England, using Boston as a base. In April 1942, the Emmons escorted the Ranger to the Gold Coast air base of Accra. That summer, the Emmons patrolled waters near Newfoundland and escorted troops from Boston to Halifax. In Halifax the ship met with a British escort unit and moved on to escort troops and merchants headed for Iceland and the Scottish coast.
Action in World War II
The Emmons returned to New England by autumn of 1942. Following training, the ship set sail from Bermuda in late October. The Emmons screened aircraft carriers and trained with Ecuadoran naval officers over the following months. It then joined the British Home Fleet the following spring. With the British fleet, the Emmons guarded convoys passing through the North Atlantic and protected British carriers during air attacks on Norway. Antisubmarine patrols commenced in Algeria on May 1, and on May 17 the Emmons sank a U-boat.The Emmons then arrived in English waters to prepare for the bombardment of the French Riviera. The crew engaged in minesweeping, pre-landing bombardments, patrol duty, and screening. At times the Emmons accompanied troops to Italian ports, but the ship primarily patrolled off the coast of France until October.In November 1944, the destroyer was converted to a high-speed minesweeper. It trained in the Caroline Islands for the invasion of Okinawa. There it cleared waters for assault ships and took up the dangerous duty of radar picket station. On November 6th, the ship was struck by five kamikaze pilots. The crew lost 60 men and 77 men were wounded. The survivors abandoned ship and the remains of the USS Emmons were transported to the U.S. the next day.
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.References: