The Robert A. Owens was a Gearing-class destroyer, commissioned in November of 1949. She had her shakedown training in the early part of 1950 as one of the first hunter-killer destroyers.
Service Around the World
She mainly toured in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea until later in 1952 when she was sent to the Mediterranean Sea. She then toured until the 1960 with the Sixth Fleet. She carried out twelve months of antisubmarine patrols off the coast of the Atlantic and Caribbean and in 1957 she patrolled in the North Sea as part of NATO exercises.
Early in the 1960s, the Robert A. Owens rotated between two Navy fleets and in February of 1962 she assisted in the recovery of the Project Mercury space capsules. She was then sent to join TG Brave for operations in controlling the submarines that were present in the Atlantic. She took part in the Cuban Quarantine as member of Task Force 136 in October and November of 1962. She also steamed north into the Atlantic to help with the ASW operations that were on going here.
The Robert A. Owens patrolled off of Cuba in March of 1963, after which she was deployed to the Red Sea, Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. She returned to Norfolk in December for FRAM work. When her overhaul was completed, she was reclassified as a sonar sound training ship for the Navy. In November of 1964, she cruised with the Sixth Fleet and the Middle East Forces.
She returned for more sound training in 1966 and then operated in the Atlantic before she was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea for five months. She had school training duties and underwent another overhaul in March of 1968. She participated in the search for the USS Scorpion before joining the Sixth Fleet again.
The USS Robert A. Owens was finally decommissioned in February of 1982 and sent to the Turkish Navy, where she served until she was decommissioned in 1999.
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.