USS Ordronaux DD–617 (1942-1973)
The USS Ordronaux DD–617 was constructed by the Bethlehem Steel Company at Fore River, Massachusetts and laid down on July 25th, 1942. She was sponsored by Mrs. J. Henry Judik, and launched on November 9th, 1942. This Benson-class destroyer was named after the nineteenth-century privateersman John Ordronaux. Lieutenant Commander Robert Brodie, Jr. was chosen to captain her.
Action in World War II
When done with shakedown, the Ordronaux was sent to Mers-EI-Kebir, Algeria from New York on May 1st, 1943, escorting a convoy there. She had her first skirmish while docked at Bizerte Naval Base. She shot down several German planes while being fired on.
On July 9th of that same year, she was given the task of flushing out Italian MAS boats and German U-boats, so they could be attacked and sunk. This was at the harbor of Port Empedocle. She then was tasked with guarding allied vessels from Axis submarines. Until the 21st of July, she provided gun support during this battle.
When this invasion was over, she spent almost 12 months escorting convoys from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
Her next duty was on a hunter-killer task force with DD’s and DE’s on April 7th, 1944. South of Novia Scotia, she spotted the enemy U-856. With her sonar, the Champlin DD-601 first made contact. The Champlin and the Huse DE-145 put down depth charges. The sub came to the surface and was attacked by the Champlin and the Huse. The USS Ordronaux and Nields DD-616 captured 28 men.
The Ordronaux was called back to the Mediterranean on May 12th, and was charged with guarding the HMS Dido with the Mackenzie DD-614. The Dido was attacking Gaeta and Terracina in west Italy, providing gun support for the United States 5th Army forces as they made their way toward Rome. Until the end of May, the Ordronaux and the French cruiser Emile Bertin, as well as the Dido, were supporting the Anzio, Italy beaches.
Her next duty was to help out with the invasion of southern France; she joined a force that was providing gun support there. This was the 9th of August. On August 15th, she provided “call fire” for Army spotters and Navy liaisons, about 3000 yards from the beach.
When the battle in France was concluded, she was once again assigned to escort convoys. She was called back to New York on May 1st, 1945 for an overhaul, and then sailed via the Panama Canal for the waters of the Pacific. She got to Pearl Harbor on July 24th and was directly sent to Wake Island. At Wake Island her duty was to provide close fire support.
After the War
After Japan surrendered, the Ordronaux made way to Okinawa. She helped with occupation efforts by taking part in landings at Nagoya and Wakayama. Before returning home, she cruised to several ports in Honshu. Two of these were to Tokyo Bay. She then made her way home in October 1945.
Being sent back to the east coast, she was stationed at Charleston, South Carolina for local operations. She continued there until being put out of commission and into reserve in January of 1947. She was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in Charleston. Later sent to Orange, Texas, she was stricken from the Naval register on July 1st, 1971 and sold for scrap in 1973.
She was awarded three battle stars for service during the war.
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.