The USS Fife was launched in 1979 and was fully commissioned on May 31, 1980. This Spruance-class destroyer was named after the distinguished Admiral James Fife.
The ship was armed with two 54 caliber Mark 45 dual purpose guns and two Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns as its main offensive weapons. To protect it from anti-ship missiles, the Fife also contained some Sea Sparrows. To deal with long range threats, Harpoon missiles were always at standby.
Aside from its main armaments, the destroyer had the AN/SLQ-32 as its Electronic Warfare System. It also had several decoys and countermeasures. For additional support, two Sikorski SH-60 Seahawk helicopters could be deployed at any time. The Fife was specially fitted for modern anti-submarine warfare.
Initially, the ship was involved in several naval exercises with the 7th Fleet in the South China Sea. This was followed by other exercises in South Korea. After the initial set of military drills, the ship had a brief stop in Subic Bay for some upkeep.
In the Gulf of Aden, the Fife was tasked with aircraft carrier escort duties. While working with the USS Ranger, a guided missile frigate from the Soviet Union collided with the warship. The Soviets claimed that the American warships were in violation of international agreements regarding the prevention of collisions at sea. Fortunately, the Fife only sustained minor damages from the collision with the Soviet craft.
The Fife was also involved in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. The destroyer initially helped enforce the trade sanctions against Iraq. When the conflict escalated, the Fife launched several missile strikes against enemy targets.
The USS Fife was finally decommissioned in 2003 and was stricken from the official Navy list in 2004. The ship served as a target during naval live-fire exercises in 2005.
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.