Bethlehem Steel Company successfully launched the U.S.S. Fred T. Berry to the open seas on January 28, 1945, out of San Pedro, California. Mrs. Fred T. Berry, widow of the ship’s namesake, sponsored the commission of the Fred T. Berry into service on May 12, 1945. Commander N. J. Frank, Jr., took command of the destroyer at the time of her first tour, sailing out from the harbor of San Francisco on August 29, 1945.
Sailing the World
During its tour on the Hawaiian waters, the Fred T. Berry trained with other ships, and then set sail for the Far East before completing her occupational tour and returning to port in San Diego on February 21, 1947. The Fred T. Berry performed a second tour December 2, 1948, in the Far East with return back to port in San Diego on August 7 of 1948. Shortly after, in 1949, she had an overhaul to modernize her antisubmarine warfare capability.
From San Francisco port on August 25, the Fred T. Berry set sail again for her new port home in Newport, Rhode Island, arriving at port on September 11, 1949. The Atlantic Fleet exercise scheduled out the Fred T. Berry to Greenland then on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for a total of 10 months. Shortly after this tour, she was placed on alert in the Mediterranean Sea during the beginning of the Korean War.
The Fred T. Berry was reclassified DDE-858 on March 4, 1950, prior to departing Newport on July 5, 1950; she sailed through the Suez Canal then joined the 7th Fleet in the Far East. Some responsibilities of the Fred T. Berry during this tour included escorting the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) as she performed bombardment duty during the withdrawal of Hungnam port and screening other fast carriers launching strikes against targets in North Korea. The Fred T. Berry detached from TF 77 on February 5, 1951, sailing east and accomplishing her first tour around the world.
The Fred T. Berry completed three years of tour with 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean from 1957 to 1960, including completion of exercises, patrolling and good will visits to different ports. She was involved with NATO Operation Mainbrace in 1952, and then traveled on to Barcelona, Spain, and Greenock, Scotland during the 1956 midshipman tour training.
The USS Fred T. Berry was stricken from the Naval Register in 1970, and scuttled two years later off Key West, Florida, where her wreckage remains as an artificial reef. The ship ultimately earned two battle stars for her service in Korea.
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.