The USS Killen was named for Edward Killen, who served in the Navy from 1801 to 1806. He was a Master’s Mate and served primarily on the Enterprise. The Killen was launched by the Puget Sound Navy Yard of Bremerton, Washington. She was commissioned on May 4, 1944, and sponsored by Mrs. Inez Cowdrey. The Killen had a displacement of 2,050 tons with a length of 376’6″. Her beam was 39’8″ and her draft was 17’9″. Her top speed could reach up to 35 knots. She was commanded by Commander H.G. Corey with a complement of 273.
Action in World War II
Shakedown for the Killen was in Port Angeles, Washington. She was then deployed for escort duty to Pearl Harbor, passing through to arrive at the Admiralty Islands on September14. The Killen then underwent training procedures and joined up with the Central Philippine Attack Force. She then proceeded to Leyte, where she provided day and night fire support to ground troops, successfully eliminating three enemy artillery posts.
The Killen then went to antiaircraft screening. While performing her duties in Leyte, she was blitzed by seven enemy aircraft, four of which she successfully destroyed. However, a bomb from one of those remaining aircraft found the port side of the vessel and killed 15 of the Killen’s men. She took temporary repairs, and then returned to Hunter’s Point, California, for overhaul.
By May 9, 1945, the Killen was fully functional again. She was deployed for escort and patrol duties in the Philippines. On June 10 she arrived at Brunei Bay in Borneo where she supported landing troops with pre-landing bombardment. By June 15, the Killen was back to standard exercises. She was then deployed to Balikpapen, Borneo, to reinforce fire missions. The Killen was quite effective in silencing the enemy. Her arrival in Manila on July 14 coincided with the last stage of the Pacific war.
After the War
Once the war stopped in the Pacific, she joined the forces in the Japanese Islands. From August 31 to November 14, the Killen effectively reinforced the occupation forces. She then sailed for the Puget Sound. After this, she went on to San Diego. The Killen was decommissioned on July 9, 1946. She received two battle stars for her WWII service, was struck from the Naval Register in 1963, and served as a target for many years. She was eventually scuttled in a shallow bay near Puerto Rico in 1975.
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.