The Newman K. Perry, a Gearing-class destroyer, was built by Consolidated Steel Corp, Orange, Texas and launched on March 17, 1945. Her commission date was July 26, 1945 and in command was Commander Norman E. Smith.
Service Around the World
After shakedown, she reported for refit and conversion to radar picket ship. After hostilities ceased at the end World War II, she served briefly with the Atlantic Fleet in late 1945. She was then assigned to Japan for three months, returning to Pearl Harbor at the end of March, 1946. Her next deployment was to the Bikini Atoll as support during testing of the atomic bomb in Operation Crossroads and testing in the Marshall Islands during the summer of 1946. In August 1947 she was deployed to the western Pacific until 1948.
The Newman K. Perry received a new designation, DDR-883 in March 1949 due to her capability as a radar picket vessel. She was then assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. In the latter part of 1949 she was deployed to the Mediterranean where she continued her duties off and on for the next two decades with occasional deployments to West Africa, northern Europe, and the western Atlantic.
With the advent of newer technology, she was updated with the latest radar capabilities, combat information technology, and weapons upgrades. During the Project Mercury space program in 1961, she assisted in recovery efforts. Later, in 1962, she participated in operations related to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Newman K. Perry received extensive upgrades to enhance her anti-submarine capabilities, taking part in the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program (FRAM I) in 1964-1965, her designation reinstated as DD-883.
Deployed to Asia, she sailed with the 7th Fleet in late 1966 and early 1967 during the Viet Nam War. Her assignments included operational support and escort duty. After completing a world cruise, she reached the east coast of the U.S. The Newman K. Perry was assigned to the Naval Reserve Force in 1973. She deployed for her last Mediterranean tour during 1973, then reassigned to duty in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
She remained on Atlantic duty for the remainder of her commission, ending on February 27, 1981. She was transferred to South Korea, serving under the name ROKS Kyong Kai, where she served until 1998. The Newman K. Perry was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on February 27, 1981 and sold for scrap.
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.