The USS Maddox (DD-662) was the second US Navy vessel to be named after Captain William A. T. Maddox, an officer of the United States Marine Corps. She was laid down on May 7, 1942, by the government-owned Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company based in Kearny, New Jersey. The ship was then launched in September 15, 1942, and was commissioned about a month and a half later.
A Gleaves-class destroyer, the USS Maddox was a relatively smaller ship that was a little over 348 feet long and tipped the scales at 1,630 tons. She had an effective range of 6,500 nautical miles at a steady speed of 12 knots. Propelled by four efficient boilers and two propellers she could go as fast as 37.4 knots. Typical of Gleaves-class destroyers, the USS Maddox packed quite a punch. On board were four 5”/32 caliber guns, six 0.50” machine guns, four 40 mm anti-aircraft guns and five 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. She also had five 21” torpedo tubes, six depth charge charges and two depth charge tracks.
Action in World War II
After her shakedown, the ship sailed straight for Norfolk, Virginia, with a crew of 16 officers and 260 enlisted men. She was initially tasked with escort duties. She accompanied unarmed fleet tankers which traveled from petroleum depots in Texas and Aruba to Norfolk and back.
She was then assigned a different route, providing protection for ships sailing from Norfolk and New York to North African ports. In 1943, the Maddox and her crew joined Task Force 81 (TF81). The group was to take part in the massive Sicilian invasion.
Destruction in Algeria
The Maddox was performing anti-submarine patrol duties when she was attacked by a German dive bomber. She managed to avoid the first few bombs but one found its target. The explosion caused the ship to roll over and sink in under two minutes.
Lieutenant Commander Sarsfield was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for valiantly supervising his men while abandoning ship. His heroic actions saved the lived of 74 crew men. The Maddox was recognized for her World War II service and earned two battle stars. She was officially removed from the US Navy list on August 19, 1943.
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.