The USS Peary DD-226 was laid down on September 9, 1919 in Philadelphia by William Cramp and Sons. The Peary was launched on April 6, 1920 and on October 22, 1920 it was commissioned. In 1922, the USS Peary headed to the Far East to begin its duty.
The Peary was part of the Yangtze River Patrol between 1923 and 1931. The ship also protected American interests in along Chinese waters between 1931 and the beginning of World War II.
Action in World War
When news of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached the Peary, it was anchored in Cavite, Philippines. Two days later, the Peary was involved in an attack of the Cavite Navy Yard. On December 10, over fifty bombers destroyed a large portion of the base. The Peary suffered damage to its stack and superstructure. It also lost eight of its crewmen. With the help of the Pillsbury and the Whippoorwill, the ship was moved to safety.
On December 26, 1941, the Japanese dropped bombs near the Peary. The ship arrived in Campomanes Bay, Negros Island on December 27, 1942 and was hidden by painting the ship green and covering it with palm fronds. It worked and when nightfall came the ship headed to the Makassar Strait through the Celebes Sea. However, the next morning the Peary was seen by a Japanese bomber. The Japanese bomber followed the Peary until three other bombers were able to join in. At that point the Peary was engaged in an attack that lasted for two hours. Eventually, the bombers retreated.
In January of 1943, the Peary went to Darwin, Australia. The Peary engaged in anti-submarine patrol between January and February. On February 15, 1943, the Peary headed out towards the Allied Forces located in Dutch Tumor to provide supplies and reinforcements. On February 19, 1942, the Japanese executed a large air strike on Darwin, Australia. The Peary was hit five times by Japanese dive bombers and sank. Thirteen were injured and eighty crew members lost their lives. On May 8, 1942, the USS Peary was removed from the Naval Vessel Register.
In honor of those who lost their lives, the USS Peary Memorial was erected in Darwin, Australia. The memorial is in Bicentennial Park.
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.