The USS McDougal was the second ship named in honor of Rear Admiral David McDougal, an Ohio native who was first appointed midshipman in 1828. During his long military career, McDougal served in the Mediterranean Sea, the West Indian Ocean, the Great Lakes, and the South Pacific. He retired from the military in 1871.
The heavily armed 381-foot Porter-class USS McDougal was built in Camden, New Jersey by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. It was sponsored by Caroline McDougal Neilson and was launched on July 17, 1936, with Commander Robert Starkey in command.
McDougalsteamed to San Diego in mid-1937 to serve as the flagship for Destroyer Squadron 9. The vessel took part in various readiness exercises in the eastern Pacific Ocean and then in the Caribbean Sea. It then moved up the Atlantic coast of the U.S. in 1941 and in early August escorted the Augusta, the CA-31 carrying President Roosevelt to his Newfoundland meeting with Winston Churchill. Following the leaders’ completion of the Atlantic Charter, the McDougal accompanied the Augusta to Maine on August 14th.
Action in World War II
In early December of 1941, McDougal steamed from the Caribbean to Capetown – only to be called to the Pacific when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The ship patrolled South American waters such as the Straits of Magellan off the Galapagos Islands. She also escorted convoys between Brazilian and Caribbean ports. McDougal returned to New York in September of 1944.
The destroyer next operated as a convoy screen while sailing to the U.K. She made four trips between British and U.S. ports over the next six months and then underwent an overhaul. She was reclassified AG-126 and embarked with the Atlantic Fleet’s Task Force 69. The vessel’s chief duty was to carry out experimental operations with radar and naval gunnery.
After the War
The USS McDougal remained in the North Atlantic for the remainder of 1945. It then steamed to Staten Island for decommissioning in June of 1946. From January of 1947 until March of 1949, the McDougal served as an active training ship for Naval Reserves based in Brooklyn. She was decommissioned on March 8th, 1949 and was removed from naval custody on September 22.
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.