The USS Nicholson (DD-982) was built as a Spruance-class destroyer. She was also the fourth vessel to receive her name from a well-known family that had been a large part of America’s nautical history. The Nicholson was involved with the Mid-East Force that was ordered to the Persian Gulf. The destroyer was sent home only a week prior to the Iraq army’s attack on Kuwait.
The USS Nicholson was included in NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic and as a part of that division she was sent to Puerto Rico, Den Helder, the Netherlands, and Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1994, the ship was ordered to the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea and also the Adriatic Sea. The destroyer was sent there to participate in the military campaigns “Deny Flight,” and “Provide Promise” in addition to the operation “Sharp Guard”.
The United States Atlantic Fleet decided to simplify their organization in July 1995 and the destroyer was relocated to the Destroyer Squadron 18. Later on September 29th, 1995 the Nicholson left her shipyard to be a part of military exercises. Her port, the Charleston Naval Shipyard, closed due to military bases being reassigned and the Nicholson was the last ship to receive service from the 94 year old shipyard.
Near Puerto Rico, the Nicholson was assigned to the USS Enterprise protection fleet for training exercises involving the attack of an old destroyer named the USS Richmond K. Turner. With these drills the military was able to organize movements between the air and surface attacks. They were also able to review new weapons put in place and update the connection of several battle divisions.
After the completion of the training exercises, the Nicholson was ordered to stay with the Enterprise protection fleet. The group left for a 6 month operation to discharge the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower fleet that had been deployed to the Operation Southern Watch. The destroyer was involved in Operation Desert Fox that was put in place to prevent Saddam Hussein’s army from bringing in weapons to attack other nations. The Nicholson was able to attack the Iraqi forces by using her Tomahawk cruise missiles. She and another ship, the USS Detroit, collided on August 27th, 2000, the incident was minor and the destroyer was able to continue.
The Nicholson was retired on December 20th, 2002 and she became a target for practice July 30th, 2004, when she was sunk.
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.