The USS O’Brien DD-725 was laid down on July 12, 1943. She was built by the Bath Iron Works company located in Bath, Maine. She was launched on December 8, 1943. The Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer weighed 2,200 tons. She had a length of 376 feet and six inches. She had the capability of reaching speeds up to 34 knots per hour. She had a complement of 336 officers and enlisted men. She was commissioned on February 25, 1944. She was commissioned at Boston Naval Shipyard with Commander P.F. Heerbrandt taking command of the vessel.
Action in World War II
The O’Brien had her shakedown out of Bermuda and Norfolk, Virginia. On May 14, 1944 she joined the convoy force sailing to Scotland and England. She performed patrol and escort duties near England. She was also involved in the bombardment of Cherbourg and the invasion of Normandy. In June she received a direct hit from an enemy attack. This resulted in 19 men wounded and 13 men killed. She then went to Isle of Portland, England to receive temporary repairs then went on to the Boston Naval Shipyard where she underwent extensive repairs.
She later sailed to Lingayen Gulf to assist in the invasion of Luzon. In January, 1945 she was struck by a Japanese aircraft. She then sailed to Manus Island to undergo repairs. Following her repairs she headed for the Bonin Islands. There she received some heavy bombing from the enemy. This resulted in 50 men being killed and missing in action. A total of 76 were wounded. She then returned to San Diego where she was decommissioned on October 4, 1947.
Action in the Korean War
When fighting intensified in the Korean situation, the O’Brien was re-commissioned on October 5, 1950. She became the flagship of Destroyer Division 132. There she participated in shore bombardment, interdiction, and patrol duties. When the Korean situation ended, through 1960, the O’Brien made annual operational cruises to the western Pacific. She also operated with the Wasp in trying to discourage the People’s Republic of China in resisting the National Chinese evacuation of the Tachen Islands.
Action in the Vietnam War
In November 1965, the O’Brien saw her first action in the Vietnam War. There she supported carrier operations while also conducting search and rescue missions. This took place in the Tonkin Gulf.
On February 18, 1972 the USS O’Brien DD-725 was decommissioned and removed from the Navy list. On July 13, 1972 she was towed to sea where she was sunken as a target.
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.