The USS Mayo (DD‑422) was a Benson-class destroyer laid down on May 16, 1938 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Fore River, Massachusetts. Named after Admiral Henry Thomas Mayo, she was launched two years later on March 26, 1940, sponsored by Admiral Mayo’s daughter-in-law. She was commissioned on September 18, 1940, with Lieutenant C. D. Emory in command.
After being commissioned the Mayo embarked on a journey to Iceland to assist in neutrality patrols. In July of 1941, the task force took protective custody of the island. Later that year when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with President Roosevelt in Argentia, Newfoundland, it was the Mayo who was tasked with safeguarding the meeting.
Action in World War II
In December, the United States entered the war formally and as a result lengthened the Mayo’s convoy assignment in the Western Atlantic. She escorted convoys departing from Boston as well as troop transports from New York. These escort missions were often perilous as bad weather and enemy U-boats presented a harrying threat to anyone who set out to sea. However, it was a fire that claimed one of the ships in her escort, the Wakefield, forcing the Mayo to rescue 247 survivors from the burning wreckage.
In November of 1942, the Mayo patrolled the waters near Casablanca, Morocco, to help assist the invasion of North Africa and protect reinforcements. She would assist mostly in training endeavors, however, until August of the following year, at which point she joined the Eighth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. In order to protect the beachhead established in Italy, the Mayo gave repeated fire and anti-aircraft protection to the troops. During one of these missions a sudden explosion damaged the ship and killed seven of her crew. Luckily, she was able to survive a tow back to Naples for repairs. In March of 1944, she returned to the eastern coast of the United States.
After the War
Before the defeat of Germany, USS Mayo made a number of tours to Trinidad and Europe. Afterward, she ventured off to the Pacific, beginning a series of escort missions from the Philippines to Okinawa. When she completed her escort mission, the Mayo sailed from Yokohama to Charleston, arriving in December of 1945. She was decommissioned in March of 1946 and went into reserve until 1969. She was eventually sold for scrapping in 1972. In total, USS Mayo 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.