The USS Gleaves was commissioned on the 14th of June 1940 with Lt. Commander E.H. Pierce at the helm. Named for Albert Gleaves, a navy officer who died in 1937, this ship was the namesake for the Gleaves class of navy destroyers.
Action in World War II
She was sent to operate near the Atlantic coast and would later return to Boston on the 19th of March, 1941. She was also sent to patrol and escort other ships through Icelandic water ways until returning for a second time to Boston on the 23rd of July. The Gleaves also made four other trips to North Africa, Ireland and again to Iceland. The goal was to protect supplies that were needed at the European Theater. After making a third return to Boston in 1942, the Gleaves departed for Sicily to participate in Allied landings.
She would later be a part of the invasion of August 1944 in southern part of France. The Gleaves also went to San Remo for patrolling as well as for support duty. She participated in bombarding shore installations. At nighttime on the 1st and 2nd of October she was attacked but also managed to destroy a small motor boat from Germany and run off two more. She also later captured another boat that contained two living operators.
The Gleaves was later assigned on December 1944 to act as a support ship near the Franco-Italian front. After that, she set sail for the U.S. in February of 1945 and, after outfitting, arrived at Pearl Harbor on August 4, days before the surrender of Japan.
After the War
The Gleaves left Pearl Harbor to aid the occupation in Saipan and Japan. After a typhoon hit the Philippine Sea, she performed rescue and salvage work. She was also able to provide a shipment of smallpox vaccine to a steamer whose crew had been infected with the disease. After being decommissioned on the 8th of May 1946, she was put in reserve at Philadelphia, and then later moved to Orange, Texas. She was struck from the Naval Register in 1969 and sold for scrap three years later. She was awarded five battle stars for her service in World War II.
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.