Commissioned on July 31, 1942, the USS Navy destroyer Jenkins was sent to North Africa as an escort ship in October of the same year. She screened heavy ships during the Naval Battle of Casablanca on November 8.
Action in World War II
On January 4, 1943, the Jenkins served on escort and patrol duty around the Solomon Islands and throughout the Coral Sea. On June 29 she conducted her first Pacific landing with the invasion of New Georgia Island.Â For the next four months, the Jenkins performed training exercises, escort duty, and preparations for the Gilbert Islands, where she joined the North Carrier Group in bombing Makin and Tarawa on November 15. She attacked Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshalls on December 4 and escorted the Lexington, which was hit by a torpedo, to Pearl Harbor.
On January 25, 1944, the Jenkins left Pearl Harbor with a tanker unit to refuel carriers and ships in the Marshall Islands. In March, she bombarded Bougainville and subsequently joined Task Force 77 for operations at Hollandia and Aitape on April 22nd. During the summer of 1944, the Jenkins provided reinforcement escort and shore bombardment for the invasions of Noemfoor, Morotai, and Sansapor.
Later that year, the Jenkins was assigned to radar picket duty and performed fighter director duties. She provided close cover for the Luzon Attack Force, where she suffered damage. On January 22, 1945, the Jenkins assisted in hunter-killer operations in Lingayen Gulf. The next month, she began covering minesweeping and shore bombardment on Corregidor and continued her fire support of the islands until late April.
On April 24, the Jenkins went to assist in amphibious operations in the Celebes Sea and struck a mine off Tarakan Island, forcing her to return to Subic Bay. On June 18 she returned to the U.S. for repairs and remained in San Pedro, California for the remainder of the war. Jenkins was decommissioned on May 1, 1946.
After the War
Jenkins was recommissioned on November 2, 1951 as DDE-447 and headed for training at Pearl Harbor in February of 1952. On June 12 she joined Task Force 77 and served in patrol duties off Korea and Taiwan until the end of the year. She returned and remained in Pearl Harbor until November 10, 1953, when she served another Far Eastern tour until June 15, 1954.
The USS Jenkins sailed yearly from 1954 through 1963 to the Far East for peacekeeping operations. On February 21, 1966 she served as gunfire support. She was decommissioned in February of 1969 and struck from the naval register before being sold for scrap in 1971.
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, includingÂ 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.