The USS England was constructed in San Francisco, California and named after Ensign John Charles England, USNR, who was killed in action during the Pearl Harbor air raid. It was a Buckley-class escort ship, weighing 1400 tons. This was the second class of destroyer escorts, succeeding the Evarts. This class was so successful that the new design was used for all future escorts.
Action in World War II
After being commissioned in December of 1943, the England deployed to the South Pacific at the beginning of 1944. Once there, its duties were escorting and patrolling. While taking part in an anti-submarine hunter-killer group from May 19th until the 26th, 1944, it managed to sink 5 Japanese submarines: I-16, RO-106, RO-104, RO-108 and RO-116. It sank another Japanese submarine, RO-105, a few days later with the help of other U.S. ships. The feat earned it a Presidential Unit Citation. It was able to pull this off because of poor security by the Japanese regarding their communications.
The war zone moved closer and closer to Japan from the end of 1944 through the beginning of 1945, during which time the USS England continued patrol and escort duties through the south and eastern Pacific waters. It participated in the invasion of Okinawa in late March and sustained serious damage to its forward superstructure on May 9th due to a Kamikaze attack. This killed 37 of its men.
After the War
The England was then sent to Philadelphia for overhaul and repairs in June, and was converted to a fast transport. Its new designation was APD-41. Since the war was soon over, the conversion was shut down and in October of 1945 the England was decommissioned. A year later it was sold for scrap.
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.