The USS McLanahan DD-615 was the second destroyer to be named for Tenant McLanahan, a midshipman killed in California in service in 1848. The ship was built in 1941 by the Bethlehem Steel Company, and launched and commissioned the next year with Lieutenant Commander H.R. Hummer at the helm.
Action in World War II
The McLanahan left San Diego in early 1943 for training in Maine, after which she set sail on her first Atlantic convoy to Algeria. After a brief return to the U.S. east coast, she again steamed to north Africa in June, this time to screen for enemy aircraft and submarines while Allied forces invaded Gela. For the next nine months, she performed escort duties in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
In mid-1944, the McLanahan supported the Anzio offensive, moving up the coast of Italy to lay down gunfire and protect the shipment of supplies. During this time, she also assisted invasion forces in Sicily. After taking a trip to New York, the ship arrived in the Mediterranean once again in December and spent January of 1945 patrolling with “le Grande Garde” on the Italian coast. During this patrol, she sustained damage from a large-caliber projectile fired from shore. Though only one crewmember died and eight more were injured, her hull was riddled with holes. Later that month, the French Navy presented the ship with the Croix de Guerre for her service.
After the War
About to leave the Mediterranean to set sail for Pacific waters, the crew of the McLanahan learned of Japan’s surrender and she was given new orders. She sailed the Atlantic until November of 1945, at which time she was rendered inactive, and then decommissioned the following year. For a time, she was berthed at Philadelphia until being struck from the Naval Register in 1971 and scrapped three years later. For her service in World War II, she was awarded four battle stars.
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.