USS Monssen (DD 798) (1994-1963)
Action in World War II
The USS Monssen was a 2050-ton Fletcher-class destroyer, assembled and built at Staten Island during February of 1994. After her commission, she headed out to the Pacific to partake in the June 1944 assault on Saipan. During mid-June, she worked alongside Task Force 58 at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and provided much needed assistance during the invasion of Tinian in July.
The USS Monssen saw action at the September landings in the Palaus in 1944. Afterwards, she covered the Leyte invasion during October of 1944. During the Battle of Surigao Strait on the nights of October 24th and 25th she participated in torpedo attacks that resulted in the demise of three Japanese destroyers and the battleship Yamashiro.
After these attacks, the USS Monssen resumed convoy escort service and practiced landings. In January 1945, the USS Monssen fought off Japanese kamikaze attacks during the Lingayen invasion. During the months of February and March, she screened the fast carriers as they assaulted the main islands of Japan and participated in the extensive amphibious assault on Iwo Jima. Her duty carried over through the Okinawa campaign and in addition to guarding planes and radar picketing, she teamed up with the USS Mertz (DD-691) to destroy the Japanese submarine RO-56.
In the summer months of 1945, the USS Monssen again took part in surface and air raids against Japanese targets and participated in occupational operations after Japan’s unconditional surrender in mid-August.
After the War
The Monssen returned to the US in the fall of 1945. She was decommissioned twice, once in April 1946, and again in September 1957. Five years after her first decommission, she was called out of retirement due to the larger demand for naval power and fleet size for the imminent Cold War. After she was re-commissioned in October 1951, she reported to the Atlantic Fleet in March 1952. She served both in the Korean War and the Cold War, deploying overseas to operate in the Far East during June-October 1954.
After that tour of duty, the USS Monssen headed for the Mediterranean Sea in 1956. After extensive usage, the USS Monssen encountered heavy weather and was damaged greatly, ending up ashore on the New Jersey coast. Eventually, this damage led to her being stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in February 1963 and scrapped later in October.
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.