USS Nicholson DD-442 (1941-1951)
The Nicholson was a Gearing-class destroyer, launched on May 31st, 1940, and put into commission on June 3rd, 1941, with the great-great granddaughter of Samuel Nicholson, Mrs. S. A. Bathriek as her sponsor. Commander J. S. Keating was chosen to captain.
Action in World War II
The Nicholson was first sent to the eastern Atlantic for her shakedown. After this, she helped escort convoys from Boston to Iceland, and then from Scotland to England. She did this for a short time, until the fall of 1942. She then prepared for the Casablanca invasion by training near Virginia. When one of her crew died during a turbine accident, she had to miss the first landings. She finally arrived there on November 12th and helped to patrol and consolidate the beachhead. Her next mission was participation in the attacks on Salerno and the Bizerte campaign. She was attacked by the Luftwaffe in Salerno and Bizerte.
The Nicholson stayed in the Mediterranean for the next five months, and then was called home in preparation for deployment to the waters of the Pacific. She left for the Pacific in January of 1944 from New York. A month later she arrived in New Guinea, where she joined the already under way Cape Glouchester campaign, acting as an LST escort. She stayed for the duration of the campaign in New Guinea, providing fire support for troops on various coasts and islands. She was also called for fire support at the Admiralties, where she was hit by an artillery shell in her ammunition handling room. She lost three crewmen and four others were injured. This was during the conquest of Seeadler Harbor, while drawing fire from enemies on Hanwei.
The USS Nicholson next sailed to the Marshalls to join the 3rd Fleet there in August of 1944. During raids on the Philippines, Formosa, and the Bonins, she guarded fast carriers. She also provided fire during the neutralization of Yap and the invasion of Palaus. After this she was sent back to the Philippines to participate in the invasion and subsequent Battle for Leyte Gulf alongside the 7th Fleet. She was then called to Seattle for repairs.
After repairs, the Nicholson returned to the western Pacific. Her first duties there were to act as escort for vessels from Guam to Ulithi. She was then deployed to Okinawa at the end of March. During that invasion, she was assigned to the exposed radar picket line. She managed to rescue crewmen from two damaged ships, the Morrison and the Little. After the Okinawa invasion, she found her way back to the 3rd Fleet to take part in final battles against Japan.
After the War
When the war ended, the Nicholson was located off Honshu, and on August 29th made her way to Sagami Wan. Her final destination in Japan was Tokyo Bay, and she arrived there on September 15th. She was called back home at this point, and arrived in San Diego, California on November 6th. She traveled to Panama, and on to Charleston, South Carolina. She was awarded 10 battle stars for service during the war.
She was made a part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet when she arrived there on November 23rd. On February 26th, 1946 she was put out of commission, and on November 30th, 1948 she was sent to the 3rd Naval District to be a Naval Reserve Training vessel. Put back into commission on July 17th, 1950, she was then put back out of commission. On January 15th, 1951 she was loaned to the Italian Navy and renamed Aviere, where she served through 1969.
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.