USS Macomb DD-458 (1941-1972)
The USS Macomb (DD-458/DMS-23) was named in honor of Commodore William H. Macomb. Built by the famed Bath Iron Works Co. which operated out of Bath, Maine, the USS Macomb was launched on May 23, 1941 and was fully commissioned on January 26, 1942.
A Gleaves-class destroyer, the USS Macomb was about 348 feet long and weighed roughly 2,230 tons. She had an effective range of 6,500 nautical miles when traveling at 12 knots. He could however, go as fast as 35 knots when needed. The ship had quite an arsenal. There were four 5” DP guns, five 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, and five 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. The Macomb also had five 21” torpedo tubes, six depth charges and two depth charge tracks.
Action in World War II
The Macomb carried a total of 208 officers and enlisted men. She underwent her required shakedown and proceeded to escort convoys and aircraft carriers off the East Coast. Her assignments meant that the Macomb would frequently sail to the South American Coast and the West African Coast, as well as the seas around Newfoundland.
On November 15, 1944, she was re-designated as DMS-23. She worked and trained with Mine Squadron 20. They then entered Okinawan waters a few months later, where she and the other ships were constantly attacked by marauding Japanese aircraft. The Macomb tallied several official kills. Her crew was very adept at bringing down enemy aircraft. During the Okinawa conflict, she brought down several more Japanese planes but also absorbed significant damage. She returned to Saipan for much-needed repairs but the war had ended before she was deemed seaworthy.
After the War
After the war, the ship and her crew were busy with military exercises and maneuvers. She was also tasked with patrol duties. She briefly joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean to help maintain a steady US presence in the region.
In 1954, she was placed on reserve and was shortly decommissioned. The Macomb was loaned to the Japanese and the ship was renamed the JDS Hatakaze (DD-182). She was then returned to the United States and was sold to the Republic of China on August 6, 1970. Renamed the ROCS Hsien Yang (DD-16), she served the Taiwanese for a few more years until she was decommissioned in 1972.
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.