USS Longshaw DD-559 (1943-1945)

The USS Longshaw was an American Naval destroyer active during World War II. She served actively in the Pacific during the war, earning nine battle stars, until being struck by enemy fire and disabled in 1945.

Action in World War II

Built in Seattle, Washington, the Longshaw was commissioned in December of 1943. After her initial shakedown off the west coast, she steamed to Pearl Harbor. Following her arrival in Hawaii she was sent to the Marshall Islands as part of the 5th Fleet. In March she steamed to waters near Majuro and began conducting patrol operations in the waters near the islands of Maloelap and Wotje. On the 21st of the month she returned to Majuro and began screening groups supplying replenishment to forces preparing for strikes against Palau, Ulithi, and surrounding areas. Following this duty she got underway for Hollandia as an escort for the task group assigned to strike the New Guinea coastal regions. Following this operation she returned to Pearl Harbor where repairs and training where conducted.  She set sail following the repairs for the Marianas, where she was part of an escort for the northern assault. She arrived near Saipan in June and conducted screening operations for escort carriers. Following a brief trip to Eniwetok she departed on assignment to guard carriers in TF 38.3 In September she, as part of the task group, attacked a Japanese convoy. The Longshaw sank three small coastal ships in the strike and proceeded to the Philippines. During the battle at Formosa in October the Longshaw shot down a Japanese torpedo bomber. She also assisted in operations supporting strikes against Leyte. In the following months she would help screen carriers for strikes against Okinawa, Formosa, and Luzon. She returned to Ulithi in late January of 1945.

Destruction at Okinawa

The following months would see the Longshaw add her firepower to Allied forces in attacks against Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. In May of 1945 she ran aground on a reef south of Naha airfield. A tug was called in to dislodge the ship after initial attempts failed. As the ship was being towed, Japanese shore batteries took the opportunity to open fire on the damaged vessel. Though crippled the ship fought back, after her bow was blown off, Commander A.W. Becker gave the order to abandon ship. In all, 86 crew members were killed, and what was left of the ship was later sunk by American Naval Forces.

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.