USS Rich DD-820 (1946-1979)
The USS Rich was a Gearing-class destroyer that was commissioned in July of 1946. She had her shakedown training in the Caribbean and was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in November of 1946. However, in the summer of 1947 she was converted to a destroyer and took up anti-submarine warfare as her main duty. She had a brief reclassification and became an escort destroyer.
In the early 1950s, the USS Rich cruised in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Seaboard. She was supposed to be deployed to the Far East in 1956, but was not because of the Suez crisis. While in the Mediterranean, the USS Rich supported the Marine landings in Beirut. She also rescued the crew of a plane that had to be abandoned. In the later months of 1962, she helped with the quarantine of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1963, the USS Rich was pulled out of active duty roster and underwent modernization under the FRAM program. Afterwards, she was again deployed to her familiar ports of call in the Mediterranean Sea. Her second post-modernization cruise took her to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Her third trip out after her FRAM upgrades led her to the waters of Northern Europe. She saw some action in the Western Pacific in November of 1968 and provided gun fire in the Vietnam War.
The Rich toured in Vietnam once more in 1968 before being enlisted as a Naval Reserve ship that same year. She had a collision with the oil ship the Caloosahatchee and consequently was sold in December of 1979.
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.