The USS Mayrant was built at the Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts. She was named after the American Revolutionary soldier Lieutenant John Mayrant. In September of 1939 this 1500-ton Benham class destroyer was commissioned. The 1,725 ton ship was just over 431 feet long and had a crew of 184. She could travel at a speed of 38.5 knots and was armed with four 5-inch guns and sixteen 21mm anti aircraft guns.
In 1940 she was an escort to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on two trips to inspect the military along the coast of the United States and the Caribbean. With World War II looming, she was also at the conference between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt as an escort in 1941.
Action in World War II
She continued as an escort even after the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor and thus entered the war. In 1942 she was assigned to work with the British Home Fleet and was actively involved in the invasion of Morocco in North Africa. In July of 1943 she was off of Palermo for the assault on Sicily when she was hit by a German air attack. Five of the crew died and she was disabled and towed to port in Malta to undergo repairs.
She then went to Charleston, South Carolina, for more extensive repairs. After repairs were completed in mid-1944, she was assigned duties on the East Coast and escorted convoys across the Atlantic. In April of the next year the Mayrant assisted in saving the freighter Atlantic States after she was torpedoed. In April she was sent to the central Pacific to fight the Japanese until the war ended in August. At the end of August she was at Marcus Island as the Japanese forces surrendered.
After the War
The Mayrant was sent on rescue missions in the Marianas and the Marshall Islands. Then she sailed to the West Coast at the end of 1945. The next year she went back to the Pacific, this time to serve as a target at the Bikini Atomic Weapons Tests in July. She was radioactive as a result of the testing and decommissioned in August of 1946. On April 5, 1948, she was finally sunk off Kwajalein.
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.