The USS Henry B. Wilson DD 957 was constructed by Defoe Shipbuilding Company out of Bay City, Michigan, and launched on April 22, 1959. The vessel was officially commissioned on December 17, 1960, under the command of L.D. Caney. The Henry B. Wilson, at the time the largest ship to be constructed on the Great Lakes, was sent to its new home port of San Diego in May of 1961 following its initial shakedown. The ship continued to serve in tests of its missile systems and perform in training and fleet exercises.
Action in the Pacific and Vietnam
In January of 1962, the destroyer was sent to the Western Pacific with stops at Yokosuka and Pearl Harbor before returning to the United States in mid-summer of 1962. The Henry B. Wilson was then a part of training exercises on the California coast before being sent to Kitty Hawk with the 7th Fleet for duty in the Western Pacific. The ship then served in operations in the Philippines area and around Japan before returning to San Diego in April of 1964.
After resuming fire support operations, the ship was deployed to the Far East in June of 1965. The Henry B. Wilson served as a flagship for Squadron 21 before serving in rescue and air defense missions in the Gulf of Tonkin area in July of 1965. She escorted the Midway CV-41 before being sent back to San Diego in November.
Following operations for a year in West Coast waters, the Henry B. Wilson was sent to the Far East for operations in November of 1966. She performed picket duty in the Vietnam region in December of 1966. In early 1967, the destroyer served in the South China Sea area along with similar duties in the Gulf of Tonkin. After performing search and rescue missions and supporting ground operations, the ship was sent back to San Diego in May of 1967.
After the War
The USS Henry B. Wilson, also known by the designation DDG-7, was officially decommissioned on October 2, 1989. The vessel remained in reserve and was eventually sunk in the Pacific Ocean as a target on August 15, 2003.
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.