USS Pope DD 225 (1919-1942)

The USS Pope DD-225 was first laid down on 19 September 1919 in Philadelphia. It was officially launched on 23 March 1920, and commissioned later that year on 27 October 1920 under Commander Richard S. Galloway. Mrs. William S. Benson was the ships sponsor. The Pope started her career at reduced commission, acting as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. During 1921 she spent time engaged in maneuvers on the East Coast and even provided escort for President Harding. In 1922, she was sent back to Philly to be upgraded and then was sent to the Pacific for duty. The Pope passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on 3 July 1922 and joined the Asiatic Fleet at Chefoo, China in August. There she performed maneuvers until heading for the Philippines in October. The USS Pope played a large role in protecting American lives and interests during the Chinese civil strife. She first patrolled with the Yangtze Patrol from 9 September 1923 to 9 October 1923. The Pope remained on patrol in this area through 1931. During this period, the Pope participated in the noted “Round the World” flight in 1924.  From 1931 to 1937, the Pope remained in this area, serving as a presence off the Chinese coast and performing battle maneuvers in the Philippines during winter months. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria, China made it necessary for the Pope to evacuate Americans during late 1937. As tensions continued to increase in this area, the Pope was reassigned to the China Patrol. She served there until 1941.

Action in World War II

On the 11 December 1941, the Pope was called to duty in Balikpapan. The Pope provided heavy gunfire and torpedo attacks in this area, delaying the Japanese from landing on Balikpapan. She was a driving force in the Battle of Badoeng Straits and Bali. During the Battle of the Java Sea on 28 February 1942 she escorted the HMS Exeter and the HMS Encounter away from the battle. Between Java and Borneo, the group of ships encountered heavy gun fire and air force attacks. During an intense 3 hour battle, the Pope fired off all torpedoes and ammunition, causing heavy damage to the enemy fleet. Just before noon on 1 March 1942, both British hospital ships sank due to heavy damage. Within the hour, the Pope was struck by 12 dive bombers, sustaining irreparable damage and was lost. The Pope was struck from the Naval register on 8 May 1942.

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.