The USS Mahan, a 1500 ton destroyer, was built at Staten Island, New York. The Mahan was named for Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan who was a noted naval historian and strategist. She was commissioned in September of 1936. Afterward commissioning, she sailed to the Caribbean and South American during her initial voyage. She was in the Atlantic until the middle of 1937.
She was then sent to the Pacific for training exercises. The Mahan was at sea when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. She was immediately sent to search for enemy vessels. She spent the next 10 months in the Hawaii and along the West Coast as an escort and on patrol.
Action in World War II
The Mahan was sent to Guadalcanal in October of 1942 to join the efforts there. On the voyage she was involved in a raid against Japanese ships patrolling the Gilbert Islands. Later in October she took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz where she took damage in a collision with the South Dakota as the action wound down.
The Mahan went to the south Pacific to be repaired. Once the repairs were complete she resumed escort duties until mid 1943. At that time she was assigned to the Seventh Fleet at New Guinea. In late summer she went to Nassau Bay, Finschafen, and Lae. She then provided escorts and was on patrol until she was called to Cape Gloucester, New Georgia, in December. In February of 1944, she also participated in the Los Negros Island capture in the Admiralties.
The Mahan underwent an overhaul on the West Coast and then went to the Pacific in the summer of 1944. In October, she was once again sent to join the Seventh Fleet. With the Seventh Fleet she performed antisubmarine patrols and safeguard convoys until December. She was called to Ormoc Bay, Leyte to take part in the troop landings there in early December.
Destruction in the Philippines
On December 7, while on patrol between Leyte and Ponson Island, she was attacked by Japanese kamikazes. She shot down three enemy planes but was hit three times. Fire consumed the ship and the crew was forced to abandon her. The survivors were rescued and the Walke sank her with gunfire and torpedoes.
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.