USS Hailey DD-556 (1943-1961)
Named for Captain Joshua Hailey, the USS Hailey DD-556 was a Fletcher class destroyer built by the Seattle Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation out of Seattle, Washington, and launched on March 9, 1943. The Hailey received six battle stars for World War II service and two stars for Korean War service. Through it all, she was never seriously damaged by enemy fire or even attacks.
Action in World War II
Her first commission came on September 30, 1943 and Commander Parke H. Brady was put in command. She was sent to be fitted out in San Diego, California, and left for Pearl Harbor on December 13, 1943. From Pearl Harbor, she sailed to the Marshall Islands to join the Southern Transport Screen for the attack on Kwajalein of the Marshall Islands.
After bombarding Kwajalein, she was sent to Eniwetok on February 15 to search for enemy ships. She joined other naval attacks on Eniwetok and then went to Majuto Atoll to rest after having cleared Manila Hay of enemy shipping. She was then sent to search for enemy submarines. She and other American destroyers shattered an enemy submarine that showed up on their sonar screens as weighing 1600 tons and being an I-176 submarine. The submarine failed to make sonar contact once bombarded but left an oil slick that extended through seven miles of sea.
From Eniwetok, the Hailey was sent to bombard Guam on July 1 to prepare for the capture of the island. She retired to Eniwetok and did various escort maneuvers for the next few months. Her next battle united her with other destroyers on strikes against Formosa. In June she and other destroyers inflicted horrific damage on Okinawa, ending Japan’s control of the area. From here, the USS Hailey returned to the States and made a part of the Reserve Fleet in January of 1946.
After the War
On April 27 of 1951, the Hailey was again commissioned. This time she was sent to Korea to support blockading operations and ground troops. After the Korean War, she was used for other services in the Mediterranean. She was decommissioned in 1960 and loaned to Brazil the next year, where she was renamed the Pernambuco D-30.
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.