The USS Perkins (DD-377) was named for Commodore George Hamilton Perkins. She was commissioned on September 18, 1936 under the command of Lt. Commander Samuel P. Jenkins. She was first assigned to Destroyers, Scouting Force then later to Destroyers, Battle Force. Prior to World War II she operated mostly in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In January of 1942 she was being outfitted for war. She departed for the southwest Pacific on February 2nd.
Action in World War II
Upon arrival, the Perkins joined the ANZAC Squadron and was responsible for protecting eastern approaches to the area. She stayed with this squadron through the spring and on occasion would tour the Coral Sea and engage enemy vessels there. She also provided some escorting and screening duties while stationed in the area. In May, she joined the attack forces at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Next the squadron cruised to the Louisiade Archipelago in an effort to stop Japanese amphibious attacks on Port Moresby. She was successful in her mission and was able to divert the Japanese attack without ever actually engaging the Japanese ships.
For the next few months she escorted convoys off the Coral and Tasman Sea coasts. In November she joined Rear Admiral Wright’s cruiser-destroyer force and was sent to Guadalcanal to engage and destroy enemy forces heading there to reinforce their troops. While there she was involved in the Battle of Tassafaronga. During this battle she fired eight torpedoes, but landed none. She then fired on the coast with her guns and later provided escort for other Allied vessels.
In April, she completed tactical training, then left for Australia to help gain control of the Huon Peninsula. In August of that year, she served as the flagship of DesRon and led several other vessels out of Milne Bay to sweep the Gulf. Together they attacked Finschhafen successfully and returned to New Guinea. That September she attacked the coasts for the Bulu and Buso Rivers and aided Allied ground troops in the taking of a garrison at Lae.
In October she was back to escort duty as the fighting continued. She transported reinforcement troops to hot areas. Then in the early morning hours of October 2nd she was rammed portside by the Australian ship Duntroon. The Perkins split in two and went down and took four of her crew down with her. She earned four battle stars for her service in World War II.
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.