The USS Ringgold was a 2,050 ton Fletcher-class destroyer built at Kearny, New Jersey and commissioned on December 30, 1942. She was named for Civil War Naval commander Rear Admiral Cadwalleder Ringgold.
Action in World War II
The Ringgold underwent shakedown and training maneuvers off the East Coast and in the Caribbean. She then deployed to the Pacific Fleet where she carried the Commander of Destroyer Division 50. Following more training, she joined a task force built around the USS Yorktown, USS Essex, and USS Independence. The task force moved to the Gilbert Islands in September 1943 and then on to Wake Island. In October, the force descended on Tarawa. During the opening phases of the attack, the Ringgold mistakenly fired on the submarine the SS Nautilus, which was damaged but able to return to port for repairs. In the ensuing battle, the Ringgold took two hits, both duds, one of which, nevertheless, knocked out her port engine. The Ringgold and three other destroyers provided close gunfire support for the initial landings.
Completing repairs, the ship joined the assault of Kwajalein and Eniwetok in January-February 1944. The Ringgold also participated in the assaults on Kavieng, the Northern Bismark archipelago, and Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. She next moved to the Marianas, and during the invasion of Guam acted as Landing Craft Control Vessel and also provided gunfire support. In October, the Ringgold again provided gunfire support for landings in the southern Leyte Gulf, before sailing to Mare Island, California for overhaul.
Back in action in early 1945, the Ringgold was part of the first carrier attacks on Okinawa and mainland Japan. On February 15-16, elements of the force downed 416 enemy aircraft and destroyed 354 on the ground. After repairs at Ulithi and Pearl Harbor, the Ringgold supported the invasion of Okinawa in June. In July, with Destroyer Squadron 25, she conducted anti-shipping operations along the Japanese coast. The Ringgold continued this duty until the end of the war. She returned to the United States in September. The destroyer was awarded 10 Battle Stars for service in WW II.
After the War
Following decommissioning on March 23, 1946, the Ringgold was assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina. She underwent modernization and was transferred to the navy of the Federal Republic of Germany in July 1959 as part of the military assistance program. The Ringgold was sent to Greece in 1981 to be used for spare parts.
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.