The USS Lardner was named after Rear Admiral James L. Lardner who served in the United States Navy from 1820 to 1871. This naval vessel was built in Kearney, New Jersey, as a Gleaves class destroyer, only 66 of which were manufactured. These destroyers sported four 5” single mount guns and ten 21” torpedoes. Anti-submarine warfare equipment included two depth charge tracks for 600 pound charges.
Action in World War II
The vessel was launched in March 1942 and commissioned in May of the same year. Her first assignment upon completing training drills in July included searching for submarines off the coast of Maine and searching for a U-boat near Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In August she and her crew journeyed to the South Pacific as an escort and blockade for convoys, fleet units, and landing troops. The vessel successfully completed search and rescue missions for United States ships which had suffered fatal enemy attacks.
In October 1942, she traveled toward Guadalcanal to shoot down enemy planes and various Japanese stations. Along with other American cruisers and destroyers, the USS Lardner won an important battle at Guadalcanal, causing the Japanese to withdraw. The ship escorted damaged naval vessels to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific Ocean and then journeyed on to Noumea, New Caledonia, in December for overhauling.
The first quarter of 1943 found the destroyer protecting battleships, convoys, transports, and tankers while fighting off enemy airplanes in Espiritu Santo, Purvis Bay, Guadalcanal, and Noumea. The vessel returned to Pearl Harbor in May for new equipment installation. In July the ship’s duties included escorting the aircraft carrier Enterprise to Bremerton, Washington, before returning to Espiritu Santo to escort amphibious vessels and transports to Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.
Her assignments in 1944 and early 1945 included escorting convoys, anti-submarine warfare, airplane patrol, and search and rescue missions. From May to August the ship joined escort carriers in the islands of Japan and traveled to Okinawa with United States battleships for the Japanese surrender.
After the War
Before porting in New York in December 1945, she and her crew escorted naval ships and evacuated hundreds of prisoners of war from Honshu. The USS Lardner was decommissioned in May 1946. In June 1949 the vessel was transferred to Turkey under the conditions of the Military Assistance Program and reclassified as the Gemlik (D-347). The destroyer was sunk in November 1982 as a target by United States Naval vessels.
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.