The USS Hilary P. Jones DD 427 was constructed at the Charleston Navy Yard. The vessel was launched on December 14, 1939, and officially commissioned on September 6, 1940, with Lt. Comdr. S. R. Clark in command. After shakedown in Charleston, the ship took part in exercises in Newport. On December 11, the ship was sent on patrol duty in the Caribbean.
The Hilary P. Jones performed escort duties in the Caribbean through 1941 and then was sent to New England for training exercises and convoy duty from New York to Newfoundland. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ship was on escort duty in the North Atlantic region. She rescued survivors of the first naval vessel lost during the war, another U.S. destroyer torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland.
Action in World War II
Following the United State’s entry into World War II, the Hilary P. Jones continued convoy duty in the North Atlantic, facing attack by German submarines. The ship served escort and supply duty in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean through early 1944. Later that year the Hilary P. Jones provided gunfire support and escort duty. The ship was a part of the sinking of the U-S16 in May of 1944 off of Algeria in a heated battle.
Heading into the summer of 1944, the Hilary P. Jones resumed escort duty in the Mediterranean and was a part of the southern France invasion. She provided support in several missions and escorted key vessels. While the destroyer was attacked by a German E-boat, it did manage to return gunfire and destroy the craft. The Hilary P. Jones continued with vital escort efforts.
Starting in the fall of 1944 and early 1945, ship returned to convoy operations in the Mediterranean before an overhaul in New York and training duties off of Casco Bay in Maine. In April of 1945, the ship was part of the Pacific Fleet and headed to Pearl Harbor and the Canal Zone. Following operations in Pearl Harbor, she assisted patrol forces off of North and South Carolina, with escort trips to Okinawa.
After the War
Following the Japanese surrender, the USS Hilary P. Jones carried occupation troops back to the United States in November of 1945. She earned four battle stars for her service. After a trip to Pearl Harbor, the ship headed to the Panama Canal and was officially decommissioned on February 6, 1947. The vessel was placed on loan to the Republic of China in 1954, where she served as HanYan DD-15 for twenty years before being struck from the naval register and subsequently scrapped.
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.