USS Mugford DD-389 (1937-1948)
The USS Mugford was constructed at the Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts. The Bagley-class destroyer weighed in at 1,500 tons. After being put into commission in August of 1937, she traveled to the Caribbean and the Atlantic for her shakedown. She was then ordered to the waters of the Pacific.
Action in World War II
The Mugford was present and docked on December 7th, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. She fired on the Japanese planes and was called to sea later on that day. She remained in the Pacific and escorted convoys from the United States to the South Pacific. She also participated in the relief expedition on Wake Island. She was one of the destroyers involved with the Guadalcanal landings in August of 1942. On the first day of the landings, there was a counterattack from Japanese warplanes. The USS Mugford was hit and lost 20 of her crewmen.
After the battle, she was sent to New Guinea and Australia to act as an escort and patrol ship. During the course of 1943, she participated in the following amphibious invasions: Arawe, Cape Glouchester, Lae, Finschafen and Woodlark Island. At Cape Glouchester, on Christmas Day, 1943, enemies attacked the destroyer and she lost some of her crew.
The Mugford was called back home for repairs and an overhaul. When this was done, she participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Saipan invasion. This took place in June of 1944, and she continued operations in the Marshalls and Marianas until late August. She acted as a screen for carriers for the rest of 1944 and during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was operating near Leyte on December 5th when a Kamikaze struck her. After undergoing repairs, she was sent back out to patrol between Ulithi and Saipan in March of 1945.
After the War
After Japan’s surrender, the Mugford helped with the occupation efforts in the waters off Japan from September until October. She returned to the United States in November of 1945. For the first 6 months of 1946, she prepared to go to Bikini Atoll for atomic bomb testing in July. On March 22nd, 1948, the Navy sank her near Kwajalein.
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.