The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, located in Portsmouth, Virginia, constructed the Clemson class destroyer USS Hulbert DD-342. The vessel was laid down on November 18, 1918, and launched on June 28, 1919. The 1,190 ton Hulbert was 314 feet five inches in length and could travel at 35 knots per hour. She was capable of complementing 126 officers and enlisted men. After her shakedown training out of Norfolk, Virginia, she was then commissioned on October 27, 1920, with Lieutenant S.A. Maher as the commander.
In June 1921, she joined destroyer maneuvers in the Atlantic. Along with the other destroyers, she spent the next year operating out of Newport. The following June, she headed for the Asiatic Station. Upon arrival, her duty was to patrol the Philippine and Chinese waters. She was responsible for protecting the interests of America during the Chinese Civil War. After her lengthy tour of duty the Hulbert sailed back to San Diego where she arrived on August 17, 1929. She participated in fleet exercises from 1930 to 1934, and then sailed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned in October 1934. She was then converted to a seaplane tender and recommissioned in August 1940. The following May she sailed to Pearl Harbor.
Action in World War II
When the attack on Pearl Harbor started, she was moored near the Submarine Base. Upon notice she immediately began firing at the attacking planes. She is believed to have been the first ship to open fire. During the attack she successfully destroyed one torpedo plane. Next she shared in firing down a dive bomber. She also damaged a number of other aircraft.
After sailing to Seattle, Washington, she then left in December 1942 for Kodiak. The Hulbert serviced patrol bombers through the early months of 1943. In June she was involved in a severe storm. Her hull received major damage and she sailed to Dutch Harbor for repairs. She then left for Seattle in late August for a major overhaul. In early 1944 she sailed to San Diego, where she was responsible for escorting other ships. During the remainder of the war she served as a plane guard and screen ship.
After the War
After the war ended she escorted the carrier USS Ranger to the Panama Canal Zone. She arrived in the middle of October of 1945 at Philadelphia. The USS Hulbert was decommissioned on November 2, 1945. She was then sold for scrapping to Ship Shape, Inc. in Philadelphia in October 1946.
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.