USS Miller DD-535 (1943-1975)

The USS Miller  (DD-535) was named after Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Quartermaster James Miller. The ship was a 2,050-ton Fletcher class destroyer built in San Francisco and commissioned August 31, 1943.

Action in World War II and Korea

After conducting training operations off the West Coast and Hawaii, the Miller steamed to the Pacific Theater as part of Destroyer Squadron 52. She served as an escort and provided gunfire support during the invasion of the Marshall Islands. From March through May,  the ship screened for the fast carrier task forces conducting raids in the Central Pacific and New Guinea. The task forces then turned their attention to the invasion of the Mariana Islands in early June. The Miller screened for USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of the Philippine Sea June 19–20, downing one Japanese plane. She then participated in attacks on Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Palau, Ulithi, and the Yap islands in September, following a short upkeep period at Eniwetok. During October, the Miller supported raids in and around the Philippines. She was on hand for the Battle of Leyte Gulf and, along with the USS Owen, used gunfire to sink the enemy destroyer Nowaki. The Miller continued operating with the fast carriers into 1945, joining the assaults on Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. When the USS Franklin was seriously damaged by air attacks on March 19, the Miller took part in firefighting and rescue operations, receiving a Navy Unit Commendation for her actions. In June she was sent Stateside for overhaul at Mare Island, California. She was in the yards when the war ended and was decommissioned in December 1945 and put into the Reserve fleet. In May 1951, Miller was recommissioned and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, based at Newport, Rhode Island. She was refitted with advanced electronics and sent to Korea during September 1952. The destroyer remained in the combat area for a year, conducting interdiction patrols and providing gunfire support. Departing Korean waters in February 1953, she sailed east through the Mediterranean. The Miller continued to operate out of Newport, conducting operations in the Atlantic and with 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, including duty during the Lebanon crisis in 1958.

After the War

The Miller became a Reserve training ship in 1959, based in Boston, filling that role until March 1964, when she was decommissioned at Norfolk. The ship was renamed James Miller in August 1971 but had no active service thereafter. She was stricken from the naval register  in December 1974 and sold for scrapping 6 months 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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.