The USS O’Brien was launched in October of 1939, but wasn’t commissioned until March of the following year. She traveled along the Eastern seaboard in 1940 and 1941, receiving repairs in 1941. In the middle of January, she steamed with two other ships for the Pacific Ocean. She arrived in January and started to sail for the Western Pacific with a convoy, but collided with the USS Cass and was forced to return to Mare Island for repairs. Once repairs were completed, the O’Brien sailed to Pearl Harbor and took the role of flagship for Destroyer Division 4.
The O’Brien operated out of Pearl Harbor. After the number of anti-aircraft guns that she could carry was increased, she made her way to the Naval Air Station on Palmyra. She then escorted those convoys from San Francisco and San Diego to Samoa. When she arrived there she assisted with the local escort work and returned to Pearl Harbor in June. She then headed out as a patrol ship and joined Task Force 17 to reinforce the troops in the South Pacific. An ambush by Japanese submarines resulted in the sinking of the USS Wasp, and damage to the O’Brien.
She had temporary repairs made and made way to the port of San Francisco. However, due to major leaking issues, she did not reach the port . On the morning of October 19th the order was given to abandon the ship and the O’Brien sank.
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.