The USS Jonas Ingram was commissioned as a Forrest Sherman-class Navy destroyer on July 19, 1957. She was built at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s Quincy, Massachusetts, shipyards. After six months of trials in the Caribbean and South America she performed patrol duty in the West Indies.
Action in the Atlantic and Mediterranean
From September 1958 to March 1959 as part of the 6th Fleet she participated in NATO exercises in the Mediterranean. On 25 June when a space test Project Mercury nose cone splashed down off the Florida Coast, the Jonas Ingram served as the recovery ship. From August to November, she participated in joint exercises in the South Atlantic with the South African and French navies.
In May 1960 she supplied air-sea rescue cover for President Eisenhower’s flights to and from the abortive Paris Summit Conference. She again provided rescue ship service for another Project Mercury space test. The Jonas Ingram supported United Nations peace-keeping efforts in the Congo during March 1961 and NATO exercises in Northern Europe from October to December.
In September 1964 she represented the United States at Malta for the ceremonies when Great Britain granted the island country independence. Following the ceremony, she took on four Turkish naval officers for a one month NATO exchange program. In December she supported the unmanned Gemini space venture GT-2 as a recovery ship. During the summer of 1965 Jonas Ingram performed Middle Eastern country-to-country visits that included French Somaliland; Somalia; Aden; Pakistan; and Lebanon.
In December, for the Gemini 6 spacecraft venture, she served as a recovery ship. In September 1966 she accompanied the destroyer USS Stribling to Port Said, Egypt. From November to December she participated in fleet battle exercises in the Caribbean. During 1970 Jonas Ingram was overhauled at the Philadelphia Naval shipyard. In the summer of 1973, while serving in eastern Africa, she rescued the majority of the crew of an Indian merchant ship that capsized of the coast of Somalia. In the Baltic in 1976 she rescued seven people from a sunken Finnish vessel.
The USS Jonas Ingram was decommissioned on March 4, 1983, and stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry three months later. Her hulk was sunk as during a target exercise on July 23, 1988.
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.