USS Morton (DD 948) (1959-1982)
The USS Morton DD 948 is named after Dudley Morton, born July 17, 1907, who throughout his career was responsible for sinking a total of 19 transport and cargo ships as commander of the USS Wahoo. He was awarded the Navy Cross and 3 gold stars.
Action in the Vietnam War
The USS Morton was laid down on March 4, 1957, and commissioned on May 26, 1959. After a training cruise in the Caribbean, she was deployed to the Western Pacific in January of 1960, where she participated in operation Blue Star, a joint force effort of the Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Later, she joined the Formosa Patrol, and participated in operation Handclasp, where she provided food, medicine, and clothing for the unfortunate people of China.
In 1964, she sailed to the South China Sea, and spent several months screening aircraft carriers following the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. In 1967, she began the Sea Dragon Operations off North Vietnam, targeting hostile defense sites and radar installations and providing gunfire support before returning in November 1967. In October 31, 1968, she once again joined the gun line, bombarding Vietnamese supply points along the coast. She returned in the spring and was decommissioned for modern anti-submarine weaponry upgrades in 1969.
She was re-commissioned in August, 1970, and spent one year training with the new equipment and conducting exercises against friendly submarine units off Hawaii and California. The Morton deployed again in 1971, conducting gun-line tours and raids on Vietnamese targets in 1972. The Morton patrolled off South Vietnam following the ceasefire of January 28, 1973, and sailed home on February 19, 1973. She spent the next few years participating ASW Exercises with the growing threat of the Soviet submarine fleet.
The Morton was deployed again in 1977 and participated in exercises off Taiwan. She also visited Kenya and Iran before returning to her home base in September 28. She sailed on her last deployment in February of 1982, and participated in five ASW exercises. On two different occasions, she rescued a total of 70 Vietnamese refugees, earning her the Humanitarian Service Medal. The Morton was decommissioned on November 22, 1982, and was scrapped in 1992.
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.