USS Fullam DD-474 (1942-1962)

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The USS Fullam (DD-474) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the US Navy that served during World War II. The ship is named for Rear Admiral William Freeland Fullam (1855-1926). During his long naval career Adm. Fullam commanded everything from sailing vessels to battleships. The admiral also served as the Superintendent of the US Naval Academy during 1914-15.

The Fullam served for a brief time as an east coast escort vessel after commissioning and was then sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations for escort and fire support duties during the island hopping campaign in the south Pacific.

Action in World War II

The Fullam arrived at New Hebrides on August 28, 1943, to assume escort duties in and around the Solomon island chain. Throughout the following months, the Fullam took part in escort and patrol duties and provided fire support and bombardment for a number of the small scale amphibious landings that took place during the south Pacific campaign. Later, as an element of the US 5th fleet, she took part in some of the most decisive victories for the allies in the Pacific campaign and distinguished herself in action off the Marianas islands, as well as taking part in the bombardment of both Tinian and Saipan in support of the Marine amphibious landings.

On June 19, 1944, the Fullam joined Carrier Task Force 19 just as the Battle of the Philippine Sea was getting under way. The Fullam provided anti-aircraft fire and picket duties during the two day battle, which inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese naval forces. Later she provided screening duties and shore bombardment in support of the ongoing US navy operations in the Marianas islands. The Fullam then left the Marianas area of operations on August 10, 1944.

During operations in support of the actions on the island of Peleliu, the Fullam collided with another vessel but continued her duties until relived and pulled back for repairs and overhaul. After a west coast overhaul, she resumed training in the Hawaiian islands in December 1944. She then joined a task group for the Iwo Jima landings and served as a screen and fire-support ship during the bloody battle that ensued on the island. She also later performed similar duties during the invasion of Okinawa.

After the War

The USS Fullam was awarded seven battle stars for her service during World War II. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve on January 15, 1947.  In 1962, her name was removed from the Naval Register, and she was sunk as a target later that year.

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.


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