The USS O’Brien was named after Captain Jeremiah O’Brien and his five brothers, who captured HMS Margaretta in 1775. The O’Brien completed seven Persian Gulf deployments and seven major Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployments.
During her third deployment, the O’Brien participated in two refugee rescues and earned the Humanitarian Service Medal. The O’Brien went further north during her fourth deployment to participate in U.S./Korean joint naval exercises. After the installation in 1987 of the advanced towed array sonar system, she conducted experimental operations in the Bering Sea and the North Pacific. In her fifth deployment, the O’Brien joined the Middle East Force. She escorted reflagged Kuwaiti tankers in Operation Earnest Will, and she was a vital member of the group that destroyed the Iranian Guided Missile Frigate Sahand in Operation Praying Mantis.
The O’Brien underwent weapon systems improvements in 1988. She took part in Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East Force from September to December of 1990. She participated in the investigation of more than four hundred vessels. In 1991 and 1992, off the coasts of South and Central America, she participated in counter-narcotic operations. In 1993, she conducted surveillance in the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf patrols during Operation Southern Watch. She took part in many joint exercises with the Air Force and the U.S. Marines, in addition to joint exercises with the Armed Forces of Brunei, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea. In 1995, she conducted operations supporting the embargo on Iraq by the United Nations.
The O’Brien operated often throughout 1996. In Pacific Middle East Force, she conducted operations supporting the embargo on Iraq by the United Nations, and her work led to the seizure of contraband oil totaling more than 1.5 million gallons. Having spent 233 days away from homeport in 1996, the O’Brien was awarded with the Battle E Device, the Humanitarian Service Award, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a nomination for the Spokane Trophy.
The year 2000 was another busy year for the O’Brien; she spent 188 days underway. In 2001, she conducted maritime interdiction operations and boarded over 30 merchant vessels during the summer spent in the Persian Gulf as part of PACMEF ’01. On September 11, she took part in the opening cruise missile strikes toward Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The O’Brien was decommissioned on September 24, 2004, and in 2006, she was sunken as a training exercise.
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.