USS Ericcson DD-440 (1941-1945)
The USS Ericcson was the third ship named for maritime inventor John Ericcson, who is best known for designing and building the Civil War ship the USS Monitor. Commissioned on March 13, 1941, the Ericcson was a 1,600 ton Livermore-class destroyer built in Kearny, New Jersey.
On May 2, 1941, following shakedown, the Ericcson pulled into its homeport, Norfolk, Virginia. It immediately joined operations along the eastern seaboard, conducting joint exercises with submarines, checking gear, participating in battle practice, and training midshipmen. In the fall it began convoy escort duties, sailing twice to Newfoundland and Iceland.
Action in World War II
During January 1942, while patrolling off Argentina, the Ericcson picked up two survivors from the SS Dayrose, which was sunken by a U-boat. From May to October it escorted convoys to the Canal Zone and the British Isles, and took part in exercises in the Caribbean. In late October it was sent to North Africa to support amphibious landings in Morocco. While providing direct fire support it destroyed four enemy shore batteries on the first day. The Ericcson returned to the U.S. on November 26.
Following a short overhaul period in Charleston, the Ericcson resumed patrol and escort duties in Caribbean waters. In May 1943 it escorted a convoy to Casablanca, the first of five such voyages. It arrived at Gibraltar February 11, 1944 for Mediterranean duty. For the next five months it supported troops following the invasion of Italy by escorting convoys and providing bombardment. Its next action came in mid-August, covering the landings in southern France, when it joined a task group for fire bombardments of the French coast.
While on patrol on August 22, 1944 it intercepted a trawler which, upon inspection, turned out to be carrying the crew of a scuttled U-boat. It took a total of fifty prisoners. After additional patrol and convoy duty it returned to New York City for overhaul.
The Ericcson escorted a convoy to Oran in April 1945. On the return trip it joined the USS Atherton and the USS Moberly off Block Island for a submarine hunt, eventually sinking U-853. The Ericcson then moved to the Pacific Theater, escorting transports to Saipan in September. The Ericcson remained on escort duty in the Far East until October 14 when it left for San Diego carrying servicemen back from the war. It was awarded three Battle Stars for actions during World War II.
The Ericcson was decommissioned at Charleston on March 15, 1946 and placed in reserve.
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.