The USS Ralph Talbot was a Bagley-class destroyer built in the Boston Naval Yard. She was commissioned in October of 1937 and spent the next four years as part of the Battle Force based in the Pacific Ocean.
Action in World War II
The Ralph Talbot was based in Pearl Harbor and was present when the Japanese attacked in December of 1941. She was one of the ships able to make it out to sea before the raid over. The Ralph Talbot joined carrier tasks forces for early raids of the Japanese bases in the Central Pacific.
In January of 1942, the destroyer joined Task Force 8 for raids in the Marshalls and Gilberts and in February in the Marcus and Wake Islands. In June of 1942, she headed off to the South Pacific where she participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Savo Island. During this battle she suffered serious damage and was ordered to return to the States for repair.
The Ralph Talbot returned to combat in time for the Rendova invasion and supported the landing forces in New Britain in late 1943. In January of 1944, she also participated in the New Guinea landings. She joined Task Force 38 and served as an escort during their strikes on the Volcano and Bonin Islands. She also played an active part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944.
The Ralph Talbot took part in the operations that captured the islands of Luzon, Iwo Jima, and the Ryukyus. She participated in the occupation of Japan, and returned to the states in November of 1945. She then became a target for the atomic bomb tests in 1946. She was decommissioned on August 29, 1946, towed to Kwajalain in early 1948, and sunk.
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.