USS Preble DD 345 (DM-20) (1920-1945)
The USS Preble was named after Edward Preble who served in the Revolutionary War. The USS Preble was commissioned on March 19, 1920 under Commander H. A. Baldridge. Her first assignment was in Mexican waters. Her mission was to transport antibiotics to aide in the fight against the bubonic plague which had become a problem during the rebellion of the Sonora Triumvirate. In August, she joined the Atlantic Fleet which was stationed in Caribbean waters. In June of the following year, she set sail for Asiatic waters and joined with units from Squadron 15. She spent the next seven years stationed in these waters.
In September she was able to assist with efforts to aid victims of the earthquake that left Japan in shambles. The following year she acted as a tanker, delivering gas and oil to Army planes that were embarking on an around the world flight. Her first experience with a tension filled tour came in 1927 when she was assigned to patrol the waters off of the coast of China. During this tour she was able to rescue several American and foreign refugees, fleeing the conflict-torn country. There were several times when the Chinese forces fired upon the Preble, but were unable to inflict any damage.
In 1929, she returned to North American waters and served in both peace time and when tension arose around the Panama Canal. She was an integral part of U. S. efforts there. 1937 found her converted to a light minelayer and re-designated DM-20.
Action in World War II
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Preble was still in dock and unable to set sail. Fortunately, she was unharmed during the attack and her crew was able to fight fires and care for injured troops. In January, she left to lay a large minefield at French Frigate Shoals, as well as one off the coast of Alaska. Following this she laid several more mine fields and rescued crew members from wrecked ships during her service in World War II.
She was finally decommissioned on December 7, 1945 and her name was struck from the Naval Lists on January 3, 1946. She was later sold for scrap to Luria Brothers of Philadelphia in October of that same year. The USS Preble earned 8 battle stars for her World War II service.
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.