The USS Lawrence was commissioned in April of 1921, a Clemson class destroyer that was built in Camden. She had her shakedown training and then her first assignment to the Destroyer Force in the Atlantic Ocean before being deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in 1922.
Between the Wars
She arrived near Constantinople in July and operated in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea as other Allied forces aided the people that were displaced by the Russian Civil War and the collapse of the large Ottoman Empire. The Lawrence also helped with the humanitarian efforts for the Greek refugees that had been stuck on Asia Minor on land that had been taken over by Turkish troops. However, she returned to the United States and reached New York Harbor in October of 1923 to start back on her local shore duty.
In 1923 the Lawrence served with the Scouting Fleet that patrolled in the Atlantic and Caribbean. She sailed transits through the Panama Canal and was stationed off the coast of Nicaragua during that country’s civil war. In early 1931, she was decommissioned in 1931 at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.
In the middle of 1932 the Lawrence was recommissioned and given the new home port of San Diego. She remained in this port for the next six years and was active in the fleet exercises as well as training drills that were required of Navy vessels. She was decommissioned again in 1938, but that would be a shorter time period as the war in Europe required her to be recommissioned.
For the remainder of 1939 and into 1940 the Lawrence was active in the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean. Here she performed anti-submarine warfare duties as well as routine patrols. In December of 1940 she was sent back to the Pacific to serve as a convoy escort soon after Pearl Harbor was attacked. She performed this duty for the rest of the war, but was also able to rescue 200 men from the steamship Henry Bergh on May 31, 1944. After returning to the U.S. east coast in 1945, she was sold in October 1946 for scrap metal.
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.