USS Nields DD-616 (1943-1946)

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The USS Nields, sponsored by Ella Nields, the daughter of Lieutenant Commander Henry Nields, was constructed by the Bethlehem Steel Company in Fore River, Massachusetts in 1942. The naval vessel was commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard in 1943.

Action in World War II

The Nields returned to Norfolk, VA in April of 1943, following her first duties, which included an escort of two tankers to Aruba and the Panama Canal Zone. She then sailed for Boston and then New York.  She departed on April 28th for her first voyage to North Africa, during which she escorted a convoy across the Atlantic. The Nields arrived in Algeria on May 19th, where she commenced a series of patrols. During this time she received report of submarines, and headed for their location. There she sunk two submarines to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

Afterwards, the Nields participated in antisubmarine patrols in the waters off the coast of Algeria. Throughout much of July, the Nields acted as a guard against aerial and underwater attacks for numerous transports. At the end of this duty, she returned to New York and headed for refresher training in Maine. For the rest of 1943, and into 1944, the Nields participated in a rescue operation for survivors who were victims of a German air attack.

In March of 1944, the Nields participated in hunter-killer exercises off the coast of Maine, following which, she sailed for the Mediterranean where she joined the 8th fleet. The Nields arrived in Oran, and commenced her duties as a coastal escort and patrol. On May 2nd, she became a participant in a four day long submarine chase, which ended with a successful attack on the enemy vessels, and the rescue of 51 survivors. Following a number of other convoy assignments in European and African waters, the Nields trained for duty in the Pacific at Guantanamo Bay.

After the War

The Nields sailed for Pearl Harbor on July 20th, and arrived on August 9th. She left Hawaii on August 21st for the Marshall Islands, later joining another destroyer at Buckner Bay. After a round trip to Guam, the Nields participated in defensive duties against the Japanese until her return to the United States on October 31st. She was decommissioned on March 25th, 1946 in Charleston, South Carolina, found unfit for further Naval service, and sold to the Southern Scrap Material Company.

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.


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