The USS Kidd was commissioned in April of 1943 and was launched from the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock company. The Kidd took her first shakedown cruise outside of Casco, Maine, and then sailed to the Caribbean and Atlantic, escorting the larger combat vessels in these areas before traveling to the Pacific Ocean with a couple of battleships.
Action in World War II
She arrived in September of 1943 in Pearl Harbor and stayed there briefly before departing on carrier escort duty to Wake Island. In the middle of October in that same year the Kidd acted as part of the task force to Rabaul sent to assist the Bougainville landings. She positioned herself in the aft of a carrier and helped to rescue the crew of a downed U.S. plane as enemy planes continued their attack. During this battle, she was able to avoid serious damage and shoot down three of the Japanese planes.
Next, the Kidd helped to screen other carriers on strikes in Tarawa and assisted in the clean-up operations in the Gilbert Islands. After a short stay in Pearl Harbor in 1944, she was again active in Guam and the Marianas invasions. However, she required repairs again after this brief combat action, keeping her at port until September 15. She then joined the major invasion fleet that steamed towards the Philippines. She used her guns to provide fire support in the Leyte Gulf, but afterwards needed to be overhauled again, this time at Mare Island Navy Yard.
In February of 1945, the Kidd departed for Okinawa, playing a key role in providing early detection and guarding some of the damaged ships from enemy attacks. She suffered heavy crew losses during picket duty when crashed into by a Japanese plane, killing 38 men aboard and wounding 55 more.
After the War
The destroyer was on her way to Pearl Harbor when the war ended in August. She was decommissioned in 1946 and put into the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The Kidd did see another tour of duty in the Korean War, but was once again taken out of commission and entered into the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1964. She was struck from the Naval Register ten years later, but started a new life as a museum ship, one of the few never to be modernized and retain her original 1945 appearance.
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.