The Bath Iron Works Corporation launched the USS John S. McCain on July 12, 1952. On October 12, 1953, the ship was commissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard.
Action in the Pacific
During the ship’s first year, she was sent to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to engage in shakedown training and sea trials. The John S. McCain arrived in Norfolk, Virginia on May 19, 1955, to prepare for her new assignment. The ship was to work with the Operational Development Force. On November 5, 1956, the John S. McCain, headed for the Panama Canal and on to San Diego, California. The ship arrived on December 4 and participated in maneuvers in the Pacific.
On April 11, 1957, the John S McCain headed for her first tour to the Far East. After stopping to visit Australia, she began working with the Formosa Patrol to assist in preventing a conflict between the Communist and Nationalist Chinese Forces. In 1958, the McCain was transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, her new home base. The ship spent eight months in training before heading to the South China Sea to prevent conflict in Quemoy and the Matsu Islands. On March 1, 1959, the McCain returned to Pearl Harbor.
On September 8, 1959, the McCain headed back to Southeast Asia. In October, the ship carried food, money, and medicine donations to Calcutta, India. Two years later, the ship headed for Laos and Vietnam spending six months at that location. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on September 25.
On November 28, 1962, the McCain steamed to the Far East to patrol the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea. The ship also participated in the Formosa Patrol in the Straits. On June 16, 1963, she returned to Pearl Harbor. In the spring of 1965, she performed her duties in Hawaii and returned to the west coast on April.
The destroyer returned to the Unites States’ eastern coast in 1966 and was converted into a guided missile destroyer on March 15, 1967, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and designated DDG-36. On April 29, 1978, the USS John S. McCain was decommissioned and removed from the Naval Vessel Register. In January of 1980, the ship was sold for scrap.
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.