The USS Jouett (DD-396) was the second ship to carry the name of Union Civil War Naval Officer John Edward Jouett, who commanded a ship at the Battle of Mobile Bay. A 1,800 ton Somers class destroyer, she was built at Bath, Maine, and commissioned at Boston on January 25, 1939.
Action in World War II
Jouett’s shakedown cruise took her to England and Ireland. Afterwards she conducted neutrality patrols out of Norfolk. In February 1940 she served as an escort for the USS Tuscaloosa which carried President Roosevelt on a tour through the Gulf of Panama. The ship was then deployed to the Pacific, arriving in Hawaii on April 10. The next year was spent in exercises with various carriers. In company with the USS Yorktown, the Jouett sailed back to the Caribbean where she joined in guarding American shipping interests. She was at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on December 7, 1941. Immediately she began ASW patrols in the southern Atlantic as well as serving as an oil tanker escort. She put in for repairs at Charleston in December 1942.
In January 1943, the Jouett hosted Brazilian President Vargas during conferences aboard the USS Humboldt with President Roosevelt, resuming escort duties in February. Off the coast of Brazil on May 14, the Jouett helped sink U-128 with gunfire support. She spent the rest of 1943 on ASW patrols. She joined the USS Omaha for ocean patrol on New Year’s Day 1944. The ships intercepted German blockade runner SS Rio Grande, sinking the vessel after the crew had abandoned ship. Five days later SS Burgenlund was spotted and sent to the bottom.
In May the Jouett escorted a convoy to England, and then joined a Reserve Fire Support Group in preparation for the Normandy invasion. She joined the operation on June 8, escorting support ships, screening and conducting ASW operations. She continued these duties until mid-July, and then set out for Algeria as a convoy escort. On August 15 she acted as command ship of the Convoy Control Group for the Delta area assault during landings in southern France. The Jouett engaged in patrol duty following completion of the landings and in early October provided gunfire support for troops fighting on Cape Ferrat. She sailed to Charleston in December to undergo repair and made two more convoy trips, one to England and one to Cuba, before the end of the war.
After the War
The ship was awarded three Battle Stars. The USS Jouett was decommissioned November 1, 1945, at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and scrapped there in 1946.
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.