On June 30, 1943, the USS McGowan DD 678 was laid down by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, New Jersey. On November 14, it was launched and on December 20, it was commissioned.
Action in World War II
On May 31, 1944, the McGowan arrived at Roi in the Kwajalein atoll to participate in the Marianas Campaign. On June 10, the McGowan headed for Saipan to participate in the invasion taking place there. Afterwards, the ship was assigned to check the transports moving troops to Guam. She then returned to Saipan to continue supporting the mission in the Marianas. In July, the McGowan headed to Guadalcanal to get ready for an attack on the Palaus. The ship remained in the area until September 17, and then headed to Angaur Island. The McGowan stayed in the area until September 22. At that point, the McGowan sailed to Manus Island to prepare for the Leyte operation.
After the ship’s mission was complete, the McGowan headed for Hollandia to monitor the convoys heading to the Philippines. On January 11, 1945, she sailed to the Lingayen Gulf to participate in the Luzon offensive. In February 1945, the McGowan engaged in battle in Honshu. Then, the ship assisted in the Iwo Jima campaign. In April and May of 1945, the McGowan assisted in the fight for Okinawa.
After the War
On August 14, while in Adak, Alaska, completing an overhaul, the Japanese surrendered. The McGowan was assigned occupation duty at the Ominato Naval Base in Japan. On October of 1945, the McGowan left Honshu and headed back to the United States. She arrived in November to undergo another overhaul. On April 30, 1946, the McGowan was decommissioned and went to the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
On July 6, 1951, the McGowan was recommissioned. In 1952, she joined the Atlantic Fleet and headed for Yokosuka, Japan. Between 1956 and 1958, she was assigned to peace keeping operations in the Mediterranean. The ship headed home in September of 1958.
The McGowan was chosen to be transferred to Spain under the Military Assistance Program in October of 1960. On November 30, 1960, she was decommissioned and renamed the SPS Jorge Juan. The USS McGowan was removed from the Naval Vessel Register on October 1, 1972. On November 15, 1988, the Jorge Juan (McGowan) was removed from the Spanish Navy List and scrapped.
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.