The USS Jarvis was a Bagley class destroyer built in Puget Sound Navy Yard. She received her commission in October of 1937 and soon after began her shakedown training. After that she performed two years of operations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Sea, after which her home port was changed to Hawaii. She took part in the preparations of the U.S. Fleet as war seemed more likely with Japan. She was docked in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked and her guns brought down four Japanese planes.
Action in World War II
For the next seven months, the Jarvis participated in a variety of operations, including attempting to provide relief to the troops on Wake Island in December of 1941. However, she was recalled to Pearl Harbor before she could complete this task, but was able to rescue survivors of a sinking fleet oiler in January of 1942. She then conducted anti-submarine patrols and served as an escort to aircraft carriers en route to Australia.
The Jarvis remained in the South Pacific until the middle of July, when she joined the first major offensive that the United States Navy carried out – the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. She arrived in the area in August of 1942 as part of Task Force 62, providing cover for the ships putting the U.S. Marines on shore. Though the initial force of enemy planes was not as heavy as expected, the Jarvis was struck by a torpedo during the counterattack on August 8.
Destruction in the Solomon Sea
She was badly damaged, though she remained seaworthy enough that she tried to head to Australia for repairs. However, she was engaged by enemy ships in the Battle of Savo Island while trying to steam back on August 9. The Jarvis was then hit by a huge force of Japanese land bombers. She was not able to evade the falling bombs and was hit multiple times. She was lost at sea that day, along with her entire crew. The Jarvis was awarded three battle stars for her service in the war.
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.