The USS MacLeish, built by William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia, was commissioned in August of 1920. She received her shakedown training and then was sent for a short period of time to the Pacific Fleet.
Between the Wars
She then returned to the port of Philadelphia in 1922, but was quickly sent out to join with the Naval Forces that were sailing in Turkish waters. She stayed here until 1924 and then returned to the United States in July of that year after visiting several European ports. In 1925 she was sent to the West Coast and operated in between the ports of China and the Philippines to help protect the interests of America. She would end up being decommissioned in 1938 and placed into the Reserve Fleet.
That decommissioning would be short lived as she was recommissioned in 1939 with the war in Europe breaking out. She was sent to the East Coast for routine patrol duty and received new weaponry and fuel tanks to increase her range. She then began escort duty of coastal shipping in the Caribbean. However, later in 1941 she was assigned escort duty in the North Atlantic and continued performing this duty until the U.S. entered World War II.
Action in World War II
Once the country entered into the war she was assigned to patrol the coastal regions from New York all the way South to Guantanamo Bay, taking credit for a probable kill of a German submarine off the coast of Florida. During the 1943 invasion of Northern Africa the MacLeish escorted ships from the United States to Casablanca. In one of those escort duties her group was credited with three sinkings.
The MacLeish would then become a target ship in early 1944 and was overhauled later that year in time to escort more convoys across the Atlantic. When D-Day was over she escorted another convoy to Cherbourg in France. In 1945 she was once again a target ship for submarines and also towed targets for planes to shoot at. She was finally sold for scrap in December of 1946, but earned one battle star for her service in the war.
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.