The USS Madison was a Benson class destroyer built at the Boston Navy Yard. She was commissioned in August of 1940 and sent to serve in the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic and Caribbean. In January of the following year she headed to Portugal as an escort to the soon to be Ambassador to France. She had the honor of escorting the President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Newfoundland to meet with the British Prime Minister and work out the details of the Atlantic Charter. In the summer of 1941 while Germany was becoming more hostile the Madison performed escort duties and anti-submarine patrols. She continued this work until the United States entered into World War II.
Action in World War II
In April of 1942 the Madison began serving with the British Home Fleet and was based in Scapa Flow. She helped to protect the USS Wasp as it delivered fighter planes to Malta and escorted convoys between the North Atlantic and Soviet Union. In September she assisted a convoy crossing the Atlantic Ocean. She rescued the survivors of the Wakefield and waited for the salvage ships to rig up a tow and get her into port.
The Madison then performed screening duties for the convoys along the British Isles, Panama, and the Gulf coast of the United States. She saw some action in the invasion of Morocco. After this she mainly performed convoy duty. That would last until the campaign to take on the Germans at Anzio. She also helped in the invasion of Southern France. During this campaign she had some success at destroying manned German torpedoes.
In 1945 she would be sent to the Pacific by the way of the Panama Canal to join in the war against Japan. She went on patrol and did escort work in the Pacific, once again rescuing survivors of a sinking ship.
After the War
In November of 1945, she returned to the U.S. East Coast to Charleston, South Carolina, where she was decommissioned and put into the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was stricken from the Naval Register in 1968 and expended as a target in the middle of October 1969.
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.