USS Howorth DD-592 (1944-1962)
The USS Howorth was built and launched by the Puget Sound Navy Yard, based out of Bremerton, Washington. She was named after William L. Howorth, a sailor in the navy who served in the mid 1800s and earned a commendation for bravery. The Howorth was commissioned on April 3, 1944, under the command of Commander E. S. Burns.
Action in World War II
Subsequent to completing the initial training and shakedown period, the Howorth was assigned to convoy duty, during which she guarded a large group of ships that were carrying soldiers to Pearl Harbor. After arriving in the Hawaiian Islands, the ship committed to another training period in the waters nearby. Upon finishing this training, she was assigned to the 7th Naval Fleet and deployed to the recently acquired Morotai Island. She was given patrol and convoy duties, which she carried out over the next several weeks.
On October 16, the Howorth was given orders to head to Leyte. The ship was assigned the duty of guarding the transport ships while other members of the squadron bombarded the island. After the initial assault, she made several voyages serving as a guard ship to nearby Guam and Manus. After finishing those tours, she headed back to Leyte to participate in the Mindoro operation. During this engagement, she was attacked by three kamikazes, two of which were shot down, but the third succeeded in impacting the Howorth on the forward mast. She then had to return to Hollandia for some repairs.
On January 9, 1945, the Howorth was present at the Lingayen operations, where she served to patrol against kamikaze attacks and to provide cover fire for ground units landing in the area. The next month, she sailed towards Iwo Jima in preparation for one of the largest amphibious assaults in the war, arriving on February 19th and immediately setting up bombardment of the coastal defensive positions. She remained at Iwo Jima for over a month, lending her guns to anti-air support and ground cover. After the battle was over, the Howorth immediately set sail for Okinawa, one of the last islands invaded before attacking Japan herself.
After the War
The Howorth was on her way to Alaska after repairs at Pearl Harbor when she received news of the Japanese surrender. She helped to transport former prisoners of war, but was then decommissioned on April 30, 1946, and placed in the Naval Reserve. In March of 1962 she was destroyed in a torpedo test on the west coast. She earned five battle stars for her service.
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.