USS Porter DD-356 (1935-1942)

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The USS Porter DD-356 was the third ship named for David Porter, a U.S. naval officer who served in the early 1800 and eventually became the U.S. Minister of Turkey.  Construction began on the destroyer that bore his name in 1933, and in 1935 the ship was ready to be launched.  Sponsored by Ms. Carlile Patterson Porter, the ship was commissioned in Philadelphia in the summer of 1936.

The Porter had her shakedown cruise near northern Europe, and then attended the coronation ceremony of King George VI of Britain in May of 1937.  Shortly thereafter, she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet and sent to San Francisco.  Her ultimate homeport was San Diego, where she remained until the outbreak of the war.

Action in World War II

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Porter had left the Hawaiian port only two days earlier, escaping possible destruction.  For a time, the ship patrolled the waters around Hawaii, and then joined up with a convoy headed for the U.S. west coast, where she would remain for the next four months with Task Force 1.  In August of 1942, she returned to Pearl Harbor for training exercises.

Destruction in the Santa Cruz Islands

On October 26, 1942, after rendezvousing with Task Force 16 on the way to the Solomon Islands, the USS Porter engaged with Japanese forces northeast of Guadalcanal.  During this battle, she was hit with torpedoes, originally thought to be from the Japanese submarine I-21.  However, Japan does not have a record of this, and it is more likely she was hit with friendly fire from the U.S. torpedo bomber Grumman.

After the crew had evacuated, the USS Shaw sunk the Porter with gunfire.  This was commonly done to badly damaged ships to prevent enemy forces from either taking the wreckage or claiming they had been the ones to sink the ship.  The Porter received one battle star for World War II service, and her name struck from the Naval Register on November 2, 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.


Naval Historical Center

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