The USS Manley (DD-940) was named for John Manley who was commander of the schooner Lee around the year 1775. As captain he captured the British Brigantine Nancy, one of the most coveted prized of the Revolutionary War. As a result he was named commodore of Washington’s fleet. The Manley was commissioned on February 1, 1955 under the command of Commander William H. Rowan. She began her career with a goodwill cruise to Lisbon, Kiel and Copenhagen.
Action in the Atlantic
Her first cruise began in September of 1957 as part of an attack carrier strike group for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercise. In December of the same year her first tragedy struck when, traveling through heavy seas toward Azores, she was hit by a huge wave. Two of her men were killed, several were hurt, and many of her sections were damaged and flooded. After emergency repairs in Lisbon she was on her way again.
In June of 1958 she became a part of the Atlantic Fleet operation aiding in the start of the President’s People-to-People program. During the beginning of 1959 the Manley worked with the Surface Antisubmarine Development Detachment in Key West, Florida. During the second half of the year she performed exercises off the coast of Crete. In 1960 she cruised to the waters of the Dominican Republic. Her presence, and that of the other fleet vessels, helped ease the tension in the region.
In 1962 she worked for a while with the Project Mercury station and was able to rescue several downed pilots. She was also a part of encouraging the Soviet Union to withdraw forces from Cuba. During this time of her career she was very successful and highly respected. She was even made a flagship for the Sixth fleet. On the way back to port, after participating in the 10th anniversary of CENTO in Iskenderum, she came across two ships that had been involved in a collision. She was able to rescue 23 passengers, fought fires and flooding, and was able to save one of the vessels.
In 1966 she recovered the Gemini V space capsule. Later that year she joined the fighting in Vietnam and narrowly escaped mortal damage when an incorrectly loaded gun exploded. The resulting damage necessitated the emergency removal of much of her crew. After repairs she again joined the fighting in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The Manley was decommissioned in 1970 for an overhaul of her antisubmarine equipment. She then sailed to Athens, Greece, which served as her new home port. After several years in the Mediterranean, she returned to the U.S. for training in 1977, then served with the Second Fleet and then the Sixth Fleet. After a final Mediterranean cruise in 1982, she was decommissioned and struck from the Register the next year.
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.