The USS Josephus Daniels (Joey D), whose namesake was the Secretary of the Navy during World War I, began construction in April of 1962. The contract to build her was awarded to Bath Iron Works on May 18, 1961 and she was completed and launched as DLG-27 in December of 1963.
Bath Iron works is a major American ship yard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine. BIW was founded in 1884 and has built military, private and commercial vessels, although most of their business comes from US Navy contracts. During World War II, the term “Bath built means better built” was coined as BIW ships were considered of superior toughness.
The vessel had a displacement 7930 tons, was 547 feet long, reached a top speed of 30 knots (35 MPH) and had a crew of 418 men and officers. Her armament consisted of one five-inch, 54 caliber gun, two three-inch (76 mm) guns, one Terrier missile launcher, six 15.5 inch (394mm) torpedo tubes, and harpoon missiles.
The Josephus Daniels, launched as DLG 27, was a frigate that got reclassified as a cruiser in June of 1975. Technically it was a Belknap class destroyer leader/cruiser, which is a single ended guided missile cruiser. A single ended cruiser has its missile armament loaded forward, opposed to double ended cruisers which have their missile armament loaded both forward and aft. Interestingly, the US Navy used the term frigate to invoke the power the frigates of old. However, in the 1975 fleet realignment, these DLG frigates were reclassified as guided missile cruisers (CG).
Affectionately known as the “Joey D,” the USS Josephus Daniels received her commission on May 8, 1965 and was sponsored by Mrs. Robert M. Woronoff and Mrs. Clyde R. Rich Jr., who were the granddaughters of Josephus Daniels. After 28 years of service, the Josephus Daniels was decommissioned in January of 1994. She was struck on January 21, 1994 and laid up as part of the reserve fleet at Fort Eustis, Virginia. She was dismantled by International Shipbreaking, LTD of Brownsville, Texas for scrap sometime between 1994 and 1999.
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.