USS Montgomery DD-121 (1918-1945)
The USS Montgomery (DD 121) was commissioned on July 26, 1918. Lt. Comdr. W. R. Purnell originally commanded the ship.
Action in World War I and II
The Montgomery embarked on her first antisubmarine patrol on August 25, 1918. She alternated coastal escort duty with patrols until World War I ended. She conducted fleet and training maneuvers from Cuba to Maine until July 19, 1919, when she left for west coast duty. She joined the Pacific Fleet and operated from Panama to Alaska. On March 17, 1922, she began inactivation in San Diego. She was decommissioned on June 6.
On January 5, 1931, she was redesignated DM-17 and converted into a light minelayer. The Montgomery was recommissioned on August 20. She sailed for Pearl Harbor in December, and it became her base until June 14, 1937, when she sailed back to San Diego, where she would be decommissioned on December 7 and go into reserve.
With the increase of world tension just before World War II, the Montgomery was recommissioned on September 25, 1939. She trained until December 1940, when she left for Pearl Harbor. After the Japanese attack the next year, she began antisubmarine patrols and interisland convoy duty. She spent 16 months in Suva, Fiji, for minelaying and escort operations in the Pacific. From September 22 to November 12, she laid mines in the Aleutians to prepare for recapturing Attu and Kiska. While minelaying off Guadalcanal at night on August 24, 1943, she collided with the minelayer Preble and lost 20 ft. of her bow. She underwent temporary repairs at Espiritu Santo and Tulagi.
She began 10 months of active service, including two convoy escort journeys between Hawaii and San Francisco, defensive minelaying around Kwajalein, local convoy escort among the Hawaiians, and convoy escort to Majuro. On October 17, while anchored off Ngulu with her engines secured, she sighted a floating mine close aboard to port. Before she could destroy it, the wind blew the ship downward onto the mine. The explosion flooded one fire room and both engine rooms, killed four crewmembers, and ruptured the fuel tanks. Salvage efforts kept her floating until towed to Ulithi to be repaired.
Underway again on January 12, 1945, she arrived at San Francisco on February 14. After arriving, it was suggested that she be decommissioned, and she was on April 23. She was sold for scrap on March 11, 1946. For World War II service, she received 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.