The USS Rathburne was a destroyer of the Wickes-class. Launched in December of 1917, she was first commissioned in June of 1918 with Commander Ward R. Worman in command. She was used to escort coastal convoys from of the mid-Atlantic coast to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The USS Rathburne remained in Nova Scotia until the end of 1918 upon which it moved to Cuba. By the time August came, the ship was sent to the Pacific Ocean where it operated near the Puget Sound and was overhauled until 1919.
In July of 1921, the ship headed west to join with the Asiatic Fleet where the USS Rathburne spent approximately a year along the coast. Eventually making her way back to San Francisco in October, the ship was decommissioned and left in a reserve fleet until 1930.
Action in World War II
During World War II the USS Rathburne was re-commissioned and in the spring of 1944 the ship was used mainly for teaching purposes. In April of 1944, she left San Diego for the Puget sound where she was converted to a high-speed transport and reclassified APD-25. She quickly left for Hawaii and towards the end of the summer she was being used to train with underwater demolition teams. The Rathburne was then sent west into combat.
In Palaus, she began her first combat operation that included bombardment and minesweeping. She was also used extensively for cover fire for many other ships as well. In January of 1945, the USS Rathburne, along with a full fire support group, downed two enemy planes in the Lingayen Gulf.
At the end of February of 1945, the USS Rathburne was struck by an enemy kamikaze. The plane crashed the port bow on the waterline and three compartments within the ship were flooded. No casualties were reported but the ship was damaged considerably. After this the USS Rathburne was told to return east to the United States for inactivation. The ship arrived in Philadelphia in October and was decommissioned less than a month later. The ship was then sold for scrap in 1946.
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, includingÂ 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.