The USS Richard S Edwards (DD-950) was constructed by the Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging Company in Seattle, Washington. The creation of the Richard S Edwards was sponsored by Mrs. W. B. Franke and the following year on September 24th, 1957, the ship launched. After receiving her commission on February 5th, 1959, by Comdr. Richard R. Law, she embarked on a voyage to Valparaiso, Chile, to receive a shakedown.
Action in the Western Pacific
After finishing shakedown, she headed back to San Diego on May 13, where she received orders to deploy to the Western Pacific. She operated with the fast carrier units of the 7th Fleet and as a part of the U.S. Taiwan Patrol Force. Returning to the West Coast on May 13, 1960, she stayed on call there before deploying again to the western Pacific in February of 1961. Again, she operated with the fast carrier group in the South China Sea before returning to San Diego on September 14th, 1961.
The Richard S. Edwards began her third West Pacific cruise on November 13, 1962, for fast-carrier operations throughout the Western Pacific, returning back to San Diego in June of 1963. She resumed her local operations until she was called upon for a fourth Western Pacific tour, taking place around August of 1964 to January 1965. During the deployment, the destroyer, along with the USS Morton (DD-948), engaged and sank North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Tonkin Gulf on 18th of September.
Upon returning to the Far East, she again operated off the West Coast before redeployment again to the Western Pacific. She provided naval support to forces ashore on the Vietnam coast and guarded against air assault for the U.S. Naval carriers in the Tonkin Gulf. During the year of 1967, she commenced operations off the West Coast of the U.S. before returning yet again to the Western Pacific in August. After arriving in Da Nang, South Vietnam, on November 3, 1967, the USS Richard S. Edwards vacillated back and forth between the Western Pacific and the San Diego Coast.
After the War
This pattern continued until August 13, 1969, when she returned to San Diego and was shortly thereafter decommissioned. She was recommissioned again in 1971 to sail to Pearl Harbor, her new home, but was taken out of commission for a final time in 1982. Eight years later, she was stricken from the record and sunk as a target in May of 1997. The USS Richard S. Edwards received six battle stars for its valiant service off Vietnam.
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.