The USS Richmond K. Turner was a Leahy-class Destroyer, constructed by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey. It was named after an admiral who served in World War II: Richmond K. Turner. After being laid down on January 9th, 1961, it was commissioned on June 13th, 1964 under the command of Captain Douglas C. Plate.
After departing the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on August 10th, 1964 to its home port in San Diego, California, it stopped for a short period at Yorktown and Norfolk, Virginia.
Subsequent to completing shakedown in May 1965, the Richmond Turner was deployed to the West Pacific as part of Task Group 77. It served as missile and anti-air support for the aircraft carriers the Coral Sea, Independence, and Oriskany while they participated in air-strike operations in the Tonkin Gulf and South China Sea.
After finishing its assignment there in September 1965, it was reassigned to a Search and Rescue Team in the Tonkin Gulf. During its time there, it rescued eight aviators. It departed San Diego on June 10th, 1968 after being retrofitted for a third tour in Vietnam. After finishing this tour and returning to San Diego in December 1968, it was assigned to antisubmarine duty off the southern coast of California.
The Richmond K. Turner continued operating out of California until March of 1971, when it was decommissioned at the Bath Iron Works for anti-aircraft warfare modernization. After spending a year at Bath, it was re-commissioned on April 27, 1962.
For the seven months following its modernization, it participated in various exercises and trails along the east coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean, and then was re-designated as CG-20 in July of 1975.
The USS Richmond K. Turner was especially known for completing the first test trial of a Harpoon missile launch from a Navy ship, successfully destroying a target 78 miles away. It also was the Navy test ship which fired the first LEAP (Light-weight Exoatmospheric Projectile) prior to its decommissioning on March 31st, 1995.
On August 9th, 1998, the USS Richmond K. Turner was sunk as a naval target off the coast of Puerto Rico as part of a training exercise.
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 in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.