USS Johnston DD-821 (1945-1981)
The USS Johnston was named after Civil War Union Naval Officer John Vincent Johnston of Cincinnati, Ohio. This naval vessel was launched on October 10, 1945, and commissioned on August 23, 1946. Commander E. C. Long served as the ship’s captain.
Action in the Atlantic and Mediterranean
Operating out of the Newport port, the Johnston undertook several missions to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The naval vessel’s first mission took her to ports in Great Britain, France, and Scandinavia. From August 23, 1949, to October 4, 1961, the ship conducted eight missions to assist the sixth Fleet’s peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East.
The Johnston was deployed for various missions in the 1950s. While on her first Mediterranean deployment, the ship aided the stabilization of the Adriatic Sea during the Trieste crisis. She patrolled the coast of Greece to protect this nation from Communist domination. Assisting with NATO operations in the North Atlantic, she rescued Dutch victims affected by violent flood waters in the North Sea. The ship’s crew donated bundles of warm clothing and more than $1,200 for the storm victims. In 1954, after the completion of a four-month deployment in the Mediterranean, the ship sailed the waters of the Atlantic coast from New England to Cuba for a 17-month tour of duty.
During the late 1950s and 1960s, the ship participated in many NATO operations. On June 6, 1959, she returned to the North Atlantic for other NATO maneuvers. Later NATO missions included “Sword Thrust” and “Strike Back” in 1960 and 1967. In November of 1961, the veteran destroyer patrolled the waters off the Dominican Republic and contributed to the political stabilization of the nation by preventing the return of the Trujillo dictatorship. On December 10, 1962, the ship arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Caribbean operations. The USS Johnston rescued a sinking Honduran freighter Kirco and towed the ship to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in February 1963.
The USS Johnston demonstrated naval strength at sea, protected, and promoted peace while docked at several Turkish Black Sea ports. The USS Johnston completed its final mission while sailing the East coast after docking at the Charleston port on February 9, 1967. In February of 1981, the Johnston was taken out of the navy’s register and transferred to Taiwan, where she served as the ROCS Chen Yang until 2001.
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.