The USS Radford was constructed by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dock Co. based out of Kearny, New Jersey. She was a Fletcher class destroyer with 2,050 tons of displacement. She was launched on May 3, 1942, and then commissioned under the command of Commander E. W. Matthes on July 22.
Action in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
After completing training and her shakedown voyage, the Radford was immediately assigned to the Pacific Fleet. She was stationed at Pearl Harbor for a brief period of time before beginning her campaigns. The Radford was present at both the Battle of Kula Gulf and the War of Kolombangara. During this time she was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation after she rescued over 400 survivors from the sinking remains of the USS Helena. On November 25, 1942, she attacked and sank a Japanese submarine. Unfortunately, she received significant damage upon striking a mine during the strike on Luzon in December of 1944.
After World War II ended, the Radford was decommissioned on January 17, 1946, and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained there for several years until 1949, when she underwent a modernization overhaul (FRAM). After being upgraded, she was ordered to join the 7th Fleet and aided U.N. forces in the Korean War. There she conducted patrol missions and also operated periodically in Hawaiian waters.
On March 3, 1965, the Radford along with the other destroyers in Division 252 headed for the South China Sea. There, they were committed to search and rescue missions as well as routine patrols. The Radford also supported U.S. troops in landing operations in the Vietnam War. She remained in the Vietnam area for the period from 1965 to 1969, conducting various naval operations and troop support missions. In July of 1966, the Radford began her 11th tour in the Vietnam War era. She conducted ASW operations and also convoy missions in the Gulf of Tonkin.
After the War
After the conclusion of the Vietnam War, the Radford was decommissioned in late 1969 in San Francisco. She was then sold for scrap a few months later. All in all, the USS Radford was awarded 21 battle stars for her service in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.
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.