USS Renshaw DD-499 (1942-1970)

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Action in World War II

The Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. began construction on the third USS Renshaw in May of 1942 in Kearny, N.J. The naval vessel was commissioned in December of that year and sailed for its first placement with the Pacific Fleet in the spring of 1943. During this time, she guarded transports to the Solomon Islands. In July, she took part in the bombardment of the Kula Gulf region and was exposed on numerous occasions to enemy fire.

In Late November, the Renshaw served in an offensive capacity in Empress Augusta Bay. Her offensive role continued into late January, when she set sail southward to support the landings on Bougainville Island. During these landings, the Renshaw was able to cause damage to enemy targets and, in March, inflicted further damage in the jungles held by the Allied forces.

Following this activity, the Renshaw spent some time at Pearl Harbor in training. At its completion, she departed to the Marianas Islands where she provided fire support for troops ashore who were under severe attack. In November of 1944, in the Ormoc Bay Area, the Renshaw spotted a Japanese submarine. With the support of other destroyers, she opened fire on the submarine. Though it attempted to return the fire, the Japanese vessel was destroyed in combat. The Renshaw then returned to Ormoc Bay in an attempt to intercept enemy transports in the area. Only one enemy ship was found, and subsequently destroyed by the Renshaw.

At the end of December, the Renshaw participated in a large transport escort, landing troops in the Lingayen Gulf. Though there were a number of heavy air attacks during this mission, the Renshaw emerged from the mission unscathed. This changed on the 21st of February in 1945, when the Renshaw was hit by an enemy torpedo in the Mindanao Sea. The torpedo exploded on contact, causing the ship to lose power and the functioning of numerous parts. Nineteen men were killed, and twenty were injured. However, damage control was able to handle the flooding and reduce the longstanding damage that was inflicted on the vessel. Temporary repairs were made in April, and permanent repairs continued in October.

After the War

The Renshaw was decommissioned in February 1947, and re-commissioned in June 1950. The Renshaw participated in two tours during the Korean conflict, and did extensive additional work in Vietnam. She was decommissioned on February 14th 1970.

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.

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