The USS Knight was an American Naval destroyer that served as part of the Atlantic Fleet during World War II. She received four battle stars for service during the war and was converted into a mine sweeping ship in the years following. She was decommissioned and struck from the Navy List near the end of 1966, and was sunk as a target near San Diego the following year.
Action in World War II
Built in the Boston Navy Yard, the Knight was commissioned in June of 1942. Following her initial shakedown off of the New England coast, the knight prepared to serve as an element in the invasion of North Africa. She arrived in French Morocco in November and served as a landing control ship during the operation, as well as conducting antisubmarine duty until sailing for US waters later in the month.
In early 1943 the Knight served as an escort ship, guarding convoys to and from Casablanca and Fedhala. In May she departed for the Mediterranean in preparation for the assault on Sicily. During the invasion she conducted fire support operations, disabling shore batteries and guarding against submarine attacks. She downed an enemy plane before arriving at Oran in July. She rescued two sailors in August who were knocked overboard from a salvage ship that failed to give proper identification before resuming her escort duties.
She took the role of flagship for Task Group 80 and helped close off Ventotene Island. She helped support the capture of German and Italian troops, and fought off an enemy air attack that damaged the USS Savannah. Following the attacks she helped secure the capture of Capri on September 13th. She then ran patrols along the coast of North Africa before returning to New York in October.
After the War
For the rest of the war, the Knight ran escort missions across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. Following the end of the war, she was converted into a minesweeper and sent to the Pacific to help secure water waters near Okinawa, the Yellow Sea, and waters off the Japanese main islands. She was decommissioned in March of 1947, and remained part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet until December of 1966 when she was struck from the Navy list. The following year she was sunk as a target.
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.