The USS Purdy DD-734 was constructed at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and launched on May 7, 1944. The vessel was commissioned on July 18 under the command of Frank L. Johnson. Following initial operations in the Caribbean, the ship was sent to Trinidad in February of 1945 and participated in preparations for the invasion of Okinawa.
Action in World War II and Korea
The Purdy headed for Okinawa, where she participated in screening operations, performed radar picket duties, protected against Japanese attacks and brought back injured survivors. The ship assisted in a serious of attacks throughout 1945 up to the Japanese surrender. In early 1946, the ship received repairs and headed back to Japanese waters for transport duty.
In 1947, the Purdy served in maneuvers in the Caribbean and had a Mediterranean tour through the summer before returning to Newport. The ship performed operations in European waters and did training duty through March of 1951 before being deployed to the Mediterranean.
The Purdy went onto serve in operations off of the coast of Korea and continued in antisubmarine training exercises off of Okinawa before returning to Korean waters in early 1952. The vessel continued to serve in Korean waters before heading to the Caribbean for training operations and Fleet duty.
After the War
After receiving a systems upgrade, the ship performed in summer training cruises annually from 1956 through 1958, traveling to Greece, Chile and Europe during these tours. The Purdy was a part of Project Mercury recovery forces in the spring of 1961. The ship supported United States efforts in the fall of 1961 in the Caribbean and Dominican Republic regions. The Purdy went on to help maintain stability in the Caribbean area through 1962. She continued to assist other vessels as part of the Cuban Quarantine during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In the spring of 1965, the ship served in training operations, becoming a school ship for the Naval Destroyer School and serving in the evaluation and testing of new equipment. The Purdy was decommissioned in early 1973 and officially stricken from the Naval Register on July 1. she was eventually sold on June 11, 1974, for scrap. During her service, the Purdy earned one battle star during World War II and three battle stars during the Korean War.
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.