The USS Reeves was a Leahy-Class destroyer named after the former commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves. She was constructed by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, and commissioned on May 15, 1964. She was initially classified as a destroyer leader (DLG-24) but later reclassified as a guided missile cruiser (CG-24).
Action in the Vietnam War
After completing training and shakedown, the ship was ordered on her first tour with the 7th Fleet in the West Pacific on April 10, 1965. During this tour, which lasted 6 months, her primary duties were to support allied forces near the coast of Vietnam, serving as an anti-aircraft station. After finishing this tour in November 1965, she returned to her home base at Long Beach, where she remained to conduct local operations for the rest of year. On May 26, 1966, she departed for a 2-year tour in Japan, during which time she also conducted air-sea rescue missions near the coast of Vietnam.
The Reeves was placed out of commission in April 1969 and relocated to the Bath Ironworks in Maine for modernization. After being retrofitted, she was recommissioned on August 29, 1970, and ordered to her new home port of Pearl Harbor. After arriving at Pearl Harbor, the Reeves conducted training exercises and operations in the waters near Hawaii.
In June 1971, the Reeves was deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin for another tour, returning in December of the same year. She then remained on duty in the Hawaiian Islands until 1980. During the late 1970s, the Reeves conducted a variety of training exercises for midshipmen, and it was at this time that she was reclassified as a guided missile cruiser (CG -24) on June 20, 1975. After finishing her tour in Hawaii, the USS Reeves received three battle stars for her service in Vietnam.
On November 5, 1986, the Reeves, accompanied by the USS Rentz and USS Oldendorf, docked at the harbor in Qingdao. This marked the first time since 1949 that U.S. Navy vessels had docked at a Chinese port. The visit was sponsored and hosted by members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The Reeves was decommissioned on November 12, 1993, and stored for several years at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility. She was later sunk as part of a training exercise (SINKEX) on May 31, 2001.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, naval cruisers 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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.