The USS Kearny was a United States Naval destroyer that served in World War II. She was commissioned in September of 1940 and her first role was serving as part of the Neutrality patrol prior to US involvement in the war. She often escorted ships in the area of Norfolk until she got underway for Newfoundland in March of 1941, where she began escorting conveys from the North Atlantic.
Action in World War II
During one escort mission in October of 1941, the Kearny was escorting three cargo ships which were torpedoed. The ship began antisubmarine operations by dropping depth charges through the night. The following day a torpedo struck the Kearny causing severe damage, as well as killing and injuring several crewmen. On Christmas Day in 1941 she made her way to Boston for full repairs.
In the spring of 1942 the Kearny spent much of her time escorting convoys in the Atlantic; from the British Isles to Panama. In September she steamed for North Africa to assist forces in the area. She screened the ships USS Texas and USS Savannah during fire support missions and escorted ships to French Morocco. She spent much of 1943 acting as an escort ship in the Atlantic and in November of that year became part of a hunter-killer task force. On New Year’s Day in 1944, with assistance from planes, she dropped depth charges on an enemy submarine. Following this action she returned to New York.
In February the Kearny joined the forces with the 8th Fleet near French Algeria, and then reported for duty in Italy. She, along with the USS Brooklyn, provided fire support for the 5th Army at the Anzio beachhead. Following these operations, she once more took on convoy duty before reporting to France.
After the War
After the end of the war, the Kearny joined the Pacific Fleet, where she acted as an escort for troop ships bound for Japan. She made several journeys through the southeast Pacific before traversing the Panama Canal and then sailing to North Carolina where she was decommissioned. She was then transferred to Orange, Texas where she would remain until her scrapping in 1971. The Kearny was award three battle stars for her service during the war.
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.