The USS Leahy had its origins in Bath, Maine, where it was assembled by the Bath Iron Works Corporation on December 3, 1959. Created specifically to serve as the lead ship of her class of destroyer leaders in the U.S. Navy, the USS Leahy was officially named after Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy and launched July 1, 1961. Under the command of Captain Robert L. Baughan, Jr. the ship received its commission on August 4, 1962 and set sail.
After undergoing a lengthy shakedown in the Caribbean, the cruiser departed Boston on September 19, 1963, and reported to Charleston, South Carolina, for further orders. Rear Adm. E. E. Grimm, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 6, selected her as his flagship and the USS Leahy went through routine training exercises in Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Caribbean for anti-aircraft exercises.
Service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean
After undergoing further exercises in the Caribbean, the USS Leahy joined an amphibious exercise known as “Quick Kick V,” and on June 1, 1964, was permanently assigned to Destroyer Squadron 6. The USS Leahy was tapped for duty with the 6th Fleet on July 17 as part of a Fast Carrier Task Group and participated in a coordinated fleet exercise, “MEDLANDEX-64” with Forrestal (CVA-59) around the Balearic Islands and Sardinia.
Afterwards, the USS Leahy embarked on independent training exercises off the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean before departing for Naples, Italy on September 22 for NATO exercises. These and various other exercises continued into October off the coast of Spain. The USS Leahy left Barcelona on December 2, 1964 for replenishment and refueling. She arrived at Charleston on December 22 and began to prepare for extensive testing of the Terrier Guidance Missile System.
During testing, the USS Leahy was briefly called into action in the Dominican Republic as a unit of the Strike and Covering Force on April 28 to May 7, 1965. On December 9, 1965, she operated throughout the Mediterranean participating in ASW, gunnery, AA warfare exercises, and major tactical operations in support of NATO. The USS Leahy was reclassified as CG-16 in accordance to the new Navy classification system on June 30, 1975, effectively becoming a part of the guided missile cruiser class.
She was decommissioned October 1st, 1993, and blotted out of the Naval Registry. On June 21st, 2004, the USS Leahy was towed to be part of the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Texas and later in November of 2004, and International Shipbreaking Limited of Brownsville, Texas, dismantled the ship for scrap.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, naval cruisers 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.