Launched in August of 1945, the USS New DD-818 was named for Private First Class John Dury New, a soldier in World War II who flung himself on a Japanese grenade to save his fellow Marines from certain death. The ship was commissioned in April of 1946 and completed a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean.
Service in the Mediterranean
The New first sailed to the Mediterranean, accompanying the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt to assist the return of King George II to the Greek throne. After this, she met up with British forces in the Adriatic Sea, calming tensions between Italy and Yugoslavia over the disputed port city of Trieste. She returned to the U.S. for an overhaul, and then spent the next few years engaged in training exercises up and down the coast from Greenland to the Florida Keys.
Redesignated DDE-818 in 1950, the New sailed again to the Mediterranean, this time for an exercise with NATO forces. As a part of the Atlantic Fleet’s destroyer force, she spent the next six years on duty in the Mediterranean and Western Atlantic. In 1958, when a coup rose up against the president of Lebanon, the New assisted in putting down the revolt and rescuing American nationals.
After regaining her original classification of DD-818, the New participated in the Cuban Quarantine of 1962. She performed anti-submarine and surveillance duties until November 20, then returned again to Norfolk for upkeep. Here, she received a FRAM Mark I conversion. With these modernizations, she joined a new squadron to patrol the Red Sea and Persian Gulf areas, both of which were experiencing political turmoil at the time.
Action in Vietnam
In 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, the New was deployed to Southeast Asia, first to Subic Bay and then to Da Nang. For a few months, she engaged in search and rescue with Task Force 77 in the Tonkin Gulf, and then assisted with Operation Dragon Fire in September. After a month of R&R, she returned to the area to provide gunfire support south of the demilitarized zone until the beginning of December.
After the War
The USS New proudly served in the United States Naval fleet for thirty years between 1946 and 1976, when she was finally struck from the naval register. The next year, she was transferred to South Korea where she served as the ROKS Taejon until 2001.
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.