USS Fiske DD-991 (1945-1974)
The USS Fiske was a Gearing-class destroyer, commissioned in late 1945. It spent the rest of that decade as a training ship and as an operational unit of the Atlantic Fleet. It made three trips into the Mediterranean Sea. Early in 1951, the Fiske traveled to the Pacific Ocean where it participated in Korean War combat operations. After five months, it returned to the U.S. east coast.
In April of 1952, the Fiske underwent a conversion and become a radar picket destroyer. In this role it received a new designation and was relocated to the Arctic; in 1954 it made its way back to the Sixth Fleet for tours. It returned to the Arctic for another cruise in 1957 and toured in Northern Europe in 1960. It was even part of the aircraft carrier striking force that handled the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962.
The Fiske was again converted in 1964 and left the New York Naval Shipyard in a FRAM I configuration; it was deemed a modern ASW ship. It toured near the U.S. shores and Caribbean Sea with duties off of Santo Domingo during its political crisis.
Action in the Vietnam War
The Fiske performed search and rescue duties, carrier escorts duties, and shore bombardment actions during the war in Vietnam. It returned to its normal Sixth Fleet duties in 1968 until 1969. Then in the middle of 1970 it toured Northern European waters.
During its third decade of service, the Fiske returned to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. It was sent into the Naval Reserve Force later on that year, but was re-commissioned to travel to the Mediterranean in 1974. It was leased to Turkey in 1980 and remained active in the Turkish Navy until the end of the twentieth century.
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.