The USS Lewis Hancock was a Fletcher class destroyer that was built in Kearny. She was commissioned in 1943 and received her shakedown training and cruise near Bermuda.Â In December of that year she headed to the Pacific Theater to help in the war effort against Japan.
Action in World War II
Her first combat operation arrived quickly in February of 1944 as she was assigned as a screen to the aircraft carriers when the invasions of Kwajalein began.Â She also helped with the raids on Truk. She played a part in the Marianas campaign and used her guns to help in bombing the Japanese shore positions on Saipan. In late June, she took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
In September of 1944 the Lewis Hancock and her group would move even further West in attacks that would assist the invasion of Leyte and the battle in the gulf. In February and March, she helped with the raids onto the home islands of Japan and played a part in the fall of Okinawa. She had to be overhauled on the West Coast and was still in the ship yard when the war ended. She was assigned no other duty and was decommissioned in 1946.
After the War
The Lewis Hancock served in the Pacific Reserve Fleet for about five years, but was recommissioned in 1951. That fall the Lewis Hancock was sent to the Atlantic Fleet. However, she was assigned duty in the Korean War through the end of 1952 until early 1953. After that cruise she served in the Atlantic and Caribbean for four more years, but also took regular visits to the European waters. She had a long deployment that led her through the Suez Canal in 1957 and into the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
The Lewis Hancock was decommissioned again in late 1957. She was placed into the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and remained there a decade here before she was loaned to Brazil for service in their navy. She performed so well of a job that the country of Brazil purchased her and she was part of this fleet until 1989, when she was disassembled for scrap.
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, includingÂ 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.