USS Olendorf DD-972 (1975-2003)
Ordered by the US government in 1972, the USS Olendorf was named for the World War II Navy Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf. After being commissioned in 1978, she was stationed in the Washington area before being sent to Japan as part of the 7th Fleet. In 1986, the USS Olendorf was among a group of war ships to visit China; these were the first war ships to do so since 1949.
Action in the Middle East
The USS Olendorf was among the first ships to respond to the Kuwait invasion in 1990. She served in the Middle East as an escort for and as part of the blockade on Iraq. The USS Olendorf earned a Combat Ribbon for her services. In 1991, she returned to Japan until her home port was changed to California. While back in the United States, the USS Olendorf underwent a complete overhaul. These upgrades took a year and a half to complete, after which her home port was designated as San Diego.
In 1994, the USS Olendorf participated in Exercise Native Fury ’94 in Kuwait. British and Kuwaiti forces also participated. Taking place in April of 1994, the purpose of these exercises was to show the United States’ commitment to supporting peace in the Persian Gulf region. The Kuwaiti forces were trained to protect themselves from future invasions, and were given the military tools they would need.
In 1995, the Pacific Fleet reorganized. Following this reorganization, in late 1995, the USS Olendorf was sent out to the Western Pacific on a scheduled mission. In the spring of 1996, she was part of a group sent to investigate the Chinese weapons testing that was happening around Taiwan. After this mission, she was sent back to the US for training exercises in the waters off Southern California.
In the fall of 1998, she was deployed back to the Persian Gulf to dampen Iraq’s ability to deliver and receive dangerous weapons. The USS Olendorf left for home port in the spring of 1999. In 2000, she ran tests for radar improvements to increase the accuracy of missiles. Later in 2000, she was sent to the Persian Gulf to retrieve the remains of a Gulf Air wreck.
In June of 2003, the USS Olendorf was decommissioned. In 2005, the ship was sunk as part of training exercises. The Olendorf was a target for USS Russell and went down off the shores of Hawaii.
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.