USS John Young DD-973 (1976-2002)
Named for Captain John Young of the U.S. Navy, the USS John Young was a Spruance class destroyer. She was ordered by the United States government in January of 1972, but was not commissioned until May of 1978. The destroyer operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean. She was among the first eight ships to begin allowing enlisted women to serve alongside men. In 1994, the John Young helped make history when she received the first female crew members.
Service in the Pacific and the Persian Gulf
In 1995, the United States Navy reorganized the Pacific Fleet. There would be six battle groups, with eight destroyer squadrons when the change was finalized. Where required, the destroyers relocated to new home bases. The John Young was placed in the Destroyer Squadron 23.
After being relocated to the Persian Gulf, the John Young participated in a second historic event on April 28, 1996. On this date, the 10,000th boarding of a merchant ship in support of sanctions placed on Iraq by the United Nations occurred. The Navy and Coast Guard inspectors boarded the Indian merchant ship from USS John Young and found nothing out of the ordinary. The merchant vessel was allowed to go on her way. The John Young teamed up with the Coast Guard again in 2001. In March of 2001, she helped in a major drug bust at sea.
The John Young remained in service with the United States Navy until September of 2002, when she returned to her home port at San Diego and was decommissioned. She was laid up at Bremerton, Washington, and remained there until 2004. On April 13, she participated, for the last time, in a training mission. She was set to be the target for the USS Pasadena during the RimPac exercises in the Pacific Ocean. The USS Pasadena fired an Mk 48 torpedo at the John Young, which sank as a result of the hit.
The USS John Young was featured in two video games in the early 1990’s. The “USS John Young 1” and “USS John Young 2”, published for the Commodore 64 in 1990 and 1992 respectively, were combat simulators.
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.