Earning three Battle Stars for service during World War II, the USS Mervine DD-489 saw combat in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Mervine was a Gleaves-class destroyer. Her hull was laid on November 3, 1941, in Kearny, New Jersey. The great-granddaughter of namesake Admiral William Mervine, Miss Mildred, sponsored her at the launch on May 3, 1942. The Mervine was commissioned on 17 June 1942, Lieutenant Commander S. D. Willingham commanding.
Action in World War II
Her first duty was to provide escort to merchant ships delivering supplies from the Gulf and West Indies to Europe at a time when U-boat activity was high and many Allied and neutral ships sustained extensive damage. In November, the Mervine joined Task Force 34 in Norfolk, Virginia, and was part of Operation Torch in North Africa.
Working off the coast of Safi, Morocco, the Mervine provided fire support to the forces assaulting Red Beach north of Safi on November 7 and 8. During the next five days she patrolled the waters in the area. When this was finished, she returned to New York where her primary duty was to protect convoys across the Atlantic and in the coastal waters of the United States.
The next year again brought service off the coast of North Africa. She cruised the coastal waters of the Camerina Plain and gave fire support to Allied assault troops. She ended her work again providing safety to convoys, this time in the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea. She was reclassified as a minesweeper in 1945 and was enroute to her new assignment in the Pacific when the Japanese surrendered.
After the War
She swept mines off the waters of China and then Japan until early in 1946. The Mervine became part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet in 1949, reclassified as a destroyer again in 1955, and remained in service until 1968. She was then sold for scrap metal in 1969.
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.