The USS Mannert L. Abele was first laid down on December 9, 1943, in Maine and officially launched in April of 1944. She was commissioned on July 4, under the command of Commander Alton E. Parker. The ship was sponsored by the widow of Mannert L. Abele.
Action in World War II
The USS Mannert L. Abele began her duty in Chesapeake Bay, training destroyer crew. On the 16 October 1944 the destroyer began her voyage to the Pacific, there it would partake in the Pacific Steaming duty. She arrived, via San Diego, in Pearl Harbor on November 17 for two weeks of training. The ship was set to sail as part of the Western Convoy in December, but returned to port for an upgrade to a fighter director ship. The Mannert L. Abele was equipped with special radar and radio equipment and received radar picket training. She launched January 1945 to be a part of the invasion of Iwo Jima.
The ship was assigned to TF 51 under Vice Admiral R.K. Turner, where she performed radar picket and support services at Saipan. On February 19 she screened ships and provided assistance for amphibious landings. On February 20 the Mannert L. Abele took part in fire support and gun operations. During a 28 hour period the Abele provided support by taking out many enemy block houses and providing night illumination. On 21 February, the destroyer returned to picket duty. In early March, the Mannert L. Abele provided bombardment support for Marines taking control of enemy islands.
The Mannert L. Abele sailed forth to join the attack on Okinawa, arriving a week before the attack and performing patrols in the area. During the Okinawa attack, the destroyer was able to take down three enemy aircraft and provide support for ground troops.
Destruction at Okinawa
On April 12, 1945, approximately 70 miles from Okinawa, the USS Mannert L. Abele was attacked by Kamikaze fighters and took the brunt of their attack. The ship was hit, at first leaving her without power or guns. She was then hit by a Baka bomb midship, breaking the ship in half. She sank almost immediately. Survivors were rescued by the LSMR 189 and LSMR 190 which were fighting nearby. The USS Mannert L Abele received two Battle Stars for her 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.