The USS John King was built by Bath Iron Works Corporation of Bath, Maine. She is the namesake of Chief Water Tender John King who won two Medals of Honor. The USS John King was sponsored by Mrs. Paul J. Kilday and commissioned on February 4, 1961.
She completed shakedown and training at Guantanamo Bay. The commander of the John King was Commander A.M. Sackett. The ship had a displacement of 3,370 tons. Her length was 437′ with a beam of 47′ and a draft of 22′. Her top speed was over 30 knots. She was equipped with Tartar missiles, ASROC, two 5″ and 2 21″ torpedo tubes. She was built to carry 24 officers and 330 enlisted men.
Service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean
The regular commissioned duties of the John King were to commence on November 7, 1961. On the East Coast, she performed a battery of tests of her weapons before normal duty called. She was a guided missile destroyer, and as such was equipped with cutting edge armaments and electronics.
Her first tour was to England, then Northern Europe and then to Dublin and a tour of the Mediterranean. There, the John King joined the ranks of the 6th Fleet. After being an active participant in peacekeeping maneuvers, she returned to the Caribbean for missile firing training and exercises. The John King then went to Washington to be showcased and entertain politicians. She was then dispatched to the Norfolk Navy Yard for repairs and updates. November 6 found her joining forces with other Naval Vessels to blockade and quarantine Cuba.
On February 1963 the USS John King was dispatched back to the Mediterranean to perform maneuvers with the 6th Fleet. In late June of 1963 she was ordered to Kiel, Germany. By July 1963 she was back in Norfolk. The John King then participated in a yearlong training and readiness session, including Antisubmarine Warfare School.
With this training under her belt, the John King sailed once again for the Mediterranean and the 6th Fleet, where she served until the end of 1964. She then returned to Norfolk and then spent four more months with the 6th Fleet. She was part of the NATO exercise Straight Laced, and was then sent back to Norfolk for an overhaul.
The USS John King received her decommissioning in March of 1990. She was removed from the register in 1993, but wasn’t sold for scrap until six years later.
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.