USS Murphy DD-603 (1942-1946)
Action in World War II
The USS Murphy, a destroyer built in 1941 at Staten Island, New York, weighed 1,620 tons and was of the Benson-class. Commissioned in July 1942, its escort duties were performed near Halifax, Nova Scotia. In October 1942, the Murphy joined the Center Attack Group, Western Naval Task Force, for deployment to Morocco to invade North Africa. Hit during the invasion, the naval vessel successfully prevented an air attack in November 1942 before being returned to Boston, Massachusetts.
In July 1943, the Murphy escorted convoys to Panama and to Casablanca. Deployed in August 1943 with an attack force to invade Gela, Sicily, the naval vessel screened, patrolled the waters, and escorted troop transports. The stern was punctured by German dive bombers, and while injured, the Murphy downed two enemy planes. After repairs in the United States, the Murphy escorted convoys to the United Kingdom in October 1943. Hit and partially sunken by the oil tanker, SS Bulkoil, the destroyer lost its bow. The bow was replaced in New York.
The Murphy deployed to France in June 1944, and participated in assaults, provided fire support, screened transports, fought off German U-Boats, and repelled torpedo attacks during the invasion of Normandy. In July 1944, the naval vessel deployed to the Mediterranean and joined Aircraft Carrier Force Task Force 88. Combat duties included fire support, guard duty, and screen duty. After an overhaul in New York, the Murphy joined the Quincy and escorted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Egypt to attend conferences.
The naval vessel was then deployed to Jidda, Arabia, to transport King Ibn Saud to Egypt. the Murphy made history as the first United States ship to enter the harbor of Jidda. The naval vessel returned to New York, joined an anti-submarine group, and performed escort duty off of the New England coast and Nova Scotia.
Assigned to the Pacific Fleet in June 1945, the Murphy deployed to Okinawa in July 1945. Occupation duties were performed with the Fifth Fleet until November 1945, when the naval vessel was returned to the United States. The Murphy was awarded four Battle Stars for service in World War II. In March 1946, the naval vessel was decommissioned and put into Reserve in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Murphy was stricken from the Naval list in November 1970 while serving with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, and sold for scrapping in October 1972.
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.