The USS McFarland was a Clemson class destroyer and commissioned in September of 1920. Initially, she set sail for European waters and traveled between England and the Black Sea. She was active in the Atlantic after returning to the United States in 1923. She had a brief stint in the Pacific during the Fleet Problem of 1925 and was placed in reserve in the early 1930s in Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1940 she was changed into a seaplane tender and received a new hull number. The conversion and recommissioning took place in October of 1940 at which time she was sent into the Pacific Ocean.
Action in World War II
The McFarland was at sea off the coast of Maui when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. She was given six more months of patrol duty in and around U.S. held islands in the central Pacific and assisted with transportation missions.
In June of 1942 with the Solomon invasion coming up the McFarland was sent to the South Pacific. She supported the Solomons invasion and helped to defend the newly built U.S. air base in Guadalcanal. She began this duty as a seaplane tender, but she was soon assigned to ferry supplies and personnel back and forth to the combat area. She was attacked while unloading some of her supplies. One of the bombs missed the McFarland, but the gas carrier next to her was not so lucky. The crew heroically managed to save the ship and was rewarded with a Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts.
The McFarland received light repairs before returning to Pearl Harbor. She was completely repaired by April of 1943 and spent the rest of the Pacific War based in San Diego, California, supporting the training of aircraft carriers.
After the War
The ship was given her original designation back in 1944 and moved to Philadelphia after the war ended. She was decommissioned in November of 1945 and scrapped a year later.
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.