The USS Lyman K. Swenson was an Allan M. Sumner class destroyer built in Bath, Maine. She was given her commission in May of 1944. She took her shakedown cruise in the Atlantic Ocean and was then sent to the Pacific Ocean, where she would remain for the next twenty seven years and aid in the war effort to defeat Japan.
Action in World War II and Korea
The Lyman K. Swenson received extensive training in anti-submarine and anti-aircraft measures. She was active in the main naval operations of the war, including battles near Leyte, Luzon and the Chinese and Indochina coasts. Between battles, she performed screening duties for U.S. carrier groups and rescued downed pilots. She and other ships spent the first four months of 1945 attacking aircraft repair centers on the Japanese island of Kyushu
In March, the Lyman K. Swenson joined the Okinawa campaign, and there downed her first Japanese aircraft. Her final mission of the war took her from Leyte to the Japanese home islands, where she faced minimal aircraft opposition, and ended with the Japanese surrender in August. She returned briefly to the United States, but was soon sent back out to the Western Pacific. However this trip was cut short in 1947 and she was sent back to the Pacific Coast where she would end up helping to train the Naval Reservists.
The Lyman K. Swenson was once again sent to the Far East when war with Korea broke out in 1950. This war led her to take part in multiple combat tours. She was among the group that launched the first aircraft carrier strike against the North Korean forces. Her most notable role came during the bombardment of Inchon, when she and several other ships drew fire in order to locate the exact positions of the Korean batteries. Though she had to pass through a narrow channel beset by enemy gunfire, she lost only one officer.
After the War
The Lyman K. Swenson was assigned regular deployments to the Pacific and received FRAM II modernizations that kept her in active service. She served her last Far East deployment in 1970 in the Vietnam War. The Lyman K. Swenson was decommissioned in February of 1971, but her sailing career continued as a parts vessel after she was sold in May 1974 to the Republic of China.
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.