The Jacob Jones DD-130 was a U.S. destroyer first commissioned on October 20th, 1919, under the command of Lieutenant Commander P. H. Bastedo. She started her career performing anti-aircraft and firing exercises along the California coast, but was quickly put into reserve and decommissioned in June 1922.
Between the Wars
On May 1st, 1930, the Jacob Jones was recommissioned and went into training as a plane guard for aircraft carriers. The next year saw the beginning of the ship’s operations in the Caribbean, where she was assigned plane guard duty for the USS Langley. That summer, she joined Destroyer Division 7 for operations along the New England coast.
In early 1932, the Jacob Jones began guard duty in California waters, which lasted the rest of the year. On May 1st, 1933, she sailed to Guantanamo for drills, remaining there until 1934 with a brief stint at Norfolk on rotating reserve. On June 29th, 1934, the Jacob Jones served as an escort during President Roosevelt’s visit to Haiti, and then continued operations in the Caribbean until December. The ship spent most of 1935 operating out of New York, and then started training cruises in the Caribbean in 1936. In February of 1937 she took part in minesweeping training at Norfolk and spent the rest of the year as a training ship for midshipmen.
After serving as a plane guard during the first half of 1938, the Jacob Jones departed for Villefranche in the Mediterranean, acting as part of Squadron 40-T. The ship remained on patrol until March 20th, 1939. She moved to Norfolk and conducted screening patrols until April 4th, 1940, when she joined the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic and eventually the Caribbean. In September of 1941, the ship trained for convoy escort duty and spent the beginning of 1942 escorting merchant ships to and from Argentina. In February, the Jacob Jones became part of the patrol protecting Allied shipping in the Atlantic.
Destruction in the Atlantic
On February 28th, soon after starting her patrol, the Jacob Jones was fired on by the German submarine U-578. The torpedoes caused massive damage, leaving only the midsection of the ship intact and killing all but about 30 crew members. The ship remained afloat long enough for the survivors to escape in lifeboats, but several more were killed when the ship sank and her depth charges exploded. An Army observation plane spotted the remaining survivors, but only twelve were rescued before bad weather forced an abandonment of the search.
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.