The USS Maddox DD-731 was laid down on October 28, 1943. She was built by the Bath Iron Works located in Bath, Maine. The Allen M. Sumner class destroyer weighed in at 2,200 tons. She had a length of 376 feet, six inches. The vessel was commissioned on June 2, 1944.
Action in World War II and Vietnam
The Maddox began her mission by screening the ships of the Fast Carrier Task Force. She was then struck by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft off Formosa on January 21, 1945. After repairs, she returned to continue assisting the carriers. For the remainder of the war, she participated in raids on the Japanese home islands, including the Okinawa campaign.
Her next recorded actions took place near Vietnam almost twenty years later. In July 1964 the Maddox began her first part of a Desoto patrol in the Tonkin Gulf. Although this was basically a routine patrol it later escalated into a major global conflict. In August 1964, while situated off the coast of North Vietnam, she was attacked by three North Vietnamese Navy Motor Torpedo Boats. The ship’s captain ordered the boats be fired upon if they came within 10,000 yards. When the boats came closer, the sailors fired several rounds as a signal for the boats to move away, but they continued to advance. Soon other U.S. ships arrived and attacked the three boats, which received major damage and had to retreat. Several North Vietnam sailors were wounded and four were killed. The U.S. did not receive any casualties during the battle, but the incident led to the legal justification for sending troops into North Vietnam.
The Maddox returned to Long Beach. In the first month of 1965 she conducted training exercises and repairs in order for her next deployment. During the summer of 1966 she conducted local exercises off the coast of California. She also made a trip to Pearl Harbor. She then departed November 20 for deployment with the 7th Fleet. During this tour she provided mostly gunfire support. She then departed for home by way of Australia, New Zealand, and Pearl Harbor.
After the War
She arrived in June 1967 in Long Beach. She then entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard to undergo an overhaul. She remained there until early 1968. The following year the Maddox was decommissioned and assigned to the Naval Reserve Force. The Maddox was removed from the Naval Vessel Register on July 2, 1972. The following month she was transferred to Taiwan, where she was given the name of Po Yang. In 1985 the vessel was scrapped.
During her years of service she was awarded with four battle stars. This was for her service in World War ll. She received an additional six battle stars for her Korean service.
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.