The USS Peterson was an American Naval destroyer that operated as part of the United States Navy from 1977 until 2002. She was a mainstay of the Atlantic Fleet and saw action during the Gulf War. After being decommissioned in 2002 she was sunk as a test target for weapons experiments in 2004.
She was commissioned in July of 1977. The Peterson was a Spruance class destroyer, weighing just over 8,000 tons when fully loaded.
The Peterson was sent on her first deployment to the Persian Gulf in 1979. She acted as the command ship of the Middle East Force, and watched over the Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. Once her cruise in the Gulf was finished she got underway for Norfolk, VA.
In 1980, the Peterson returned to the Persian Gulf, and then in 1981 made a cruise to the Mediterranean. In 1982, she underwent an overhaul. Her weapons systems where upgraded during the overhaul. She gained a pair of 20mm Vulcan CIWS mounts, and her electronics array was greatly upgraded.
Her next deployment came in 1984 when she sailed for the Mediterranean. During this time, the Peterson joined the Saratoga battle group, and supplied fire support off the coast of Beirut. After returning to the US she remained in home waters until the autumn of the following year.
The next deployment of the Peterson took her to the Arctic where she took part in NATO exercises and crossed the Arctic Circle. Following this cruise she was sent back to the Mediterranean where she performed search and rescue missions, earning herself a Naval Unit Commendation. During the Civil War in Liberia, the Peterson assisted in evacuating US citizens.
Her cruise took her into the Red Sea as part of the Desert Storm force. She intercepted 247 vessels while supporting sanctions against Iraq. She also bombarded the headquarters of Iraq intelligence after the attempted assassination of President G.H.W. Bush. After Desert Storm, she provided support for operations near Haiti.
In 2001 and 2002, she once more returned to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She acted as a guard ship and commander during the deployment, and also conducted intelligence operations. Following her return she was decommissioned and sunk as a practice target two years later.
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.