The USS McCalla (DD-488) was the second American warship to be named in honor of Bowman H. McCalla, a Rear Admiral who had served in the Spanish-American War. Built on a government owned shipyard, the McCalla, a Gleaves-class destroyer, was launched on March 20, 1942 and was commissioned on May 27.
The USS McCalla, a 1,650 ton ship, was measured at a few inches over 348 feet. She was capable of reaching 37.4 knots and had amazing range which was said to have been about 6,500 nautical miles when cruising at a steady 12 knots. Typical of destroyers in her class, the McCalla was armed with five 5”/38 caliber guns, six long-range M2 Browning machine guns and six deadly Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns. She also packed ten 21” torpedo tubes for the Mark 15 torpedoes and two depth charge tracks for use against enemy submarines.
Action in World War II
Carrying a crew of 276, the McCalla took on her first wartime assignment as an escort ship providing much needed protection. She was then ordered to reinforce Allied forces in the Solomons. She continued her escort duties when she ran into an enemy convoy. The battle proved to be very costly for both sides. The Americans lost a destroyer and almost lost a light cruiser. The Japanese had heavier losses. The Imperial Navy lost a heavy cruiser and a destroyer. A third vessel had to limp back to Japan for some much-needed repairs.
The following day, two Japanese destroyers attempted to search for survivors but were subsequently sunk by Allied aircraft deployed from Guadalcanal. The McCalla managed to save scores of American sailors and captured three Japanese personnel.
After the War
She picked up a total of ten battle stars for her wartime service. The ship was decommissioned on May 17, 1946, and was placed on reserve. She was activated for service once more in 1948 and sailed with an American and Turkish crew for training purposes. Ownership was then transferred to the Turkish government. She was renamed the TCG Giresun (D 345) and served the Turkish Navy for several years. She was then struck in 1973 and was scrapped later that 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.