The USS English (DD-696) was named for Rear Admiral Robert Henry English, recipient of the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal. The Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer was put in the water on February 27, 1944. She received her commission on May 4.
Action in World War II and Korea
The English first deployed to the Hawaiian Islands, arriving on September 3. She sailed on December 17 for Ulithi, joining screen operations on December 28 and 29. She then departed for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. After a logistics run, the English set off for Saipan and the Iwo Jima campaign. In the spring of 1945, the English carried out airstrikes and other operations in advance of the major Okinawa offensive.
From late April 1946, the English was stationed at Boston, then Charleston, then New Orleans, conducting training for Naval reservists. She was reassigned to Norfolk on April 23, 1949. On September 6 she joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. The Korean War brought her into active service once again. The English arrived in Yokosuka on October 5, 1950, and joined subsequent strike operations. She left the Korean theater on May 11, 1951.
After the War
The English returned to training procedures on June 9, 1951, followed by a stint of cold-weather exercises. She joined NATO operations in August 1952, making her way back to Norfolk in February 1953. She suffered a collision with fellow destroyer the Wallace L. Lind (DD-703) on Halloween Day, 1954, losing 50 feet of her bow, but no men.
The English next played good-will ambassador in Europe in the summer of 1955. She spent the balance of the year back on Mediterranean duty and was pressed into rescue action with the outbreak of the Suez Crisis. Spring of 1959 found the English in Norfolk conducting a series of antisubmarine exercises. She served one more tour with the 6th Fleet in September 1961. The destroyer acted as Plane Guard during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, remaining at sea for more than 30 days straight.
The U.S. Navy decommissioned English and removed her from naval roles on May 15, 1970. She was transferred to the Republic of China Navy on August 11, 1970, and served as the ROCN Heui Yang until decommissioned 29 years later. The Heui Yang was sunk as an exercise target on October 14, 2003. The U.S. Navy awarded eight battle stars to USS English, four each for her service during World War II and the Korean War.
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.