USS Russell DDG-59 (1939-1945)

Action in World War II

The USS Russell was a World War II Sims-class destroyer, commissioned in November of 1939, and built at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Her first task was to work as part of the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic and Caribbean. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Russell was sent to the Pacific Ocean and arrived in January of 1942. Her goal was to reinforce Samoa and other areas. She  then serve as a screening ship for the USS Yorktown while her planes  start raiding the area of the Makin. She was sent to Wake Island to cover forces that were building an airbase on Canton Island. She was on active duty in the Battle of the Coral Sea and supported the carriers that were attacking the Japanese forces. She engaged the planes that were attacking the fleet, but it could not prevent the Lexington from being hit and damaged. The Russell evacuated the crew members that were abandoning the Lexington. The Russell was present at the Battle of Midway and served as a close screen for the Yorktown.  The Yorktown was hit and sank. The Russell searched for the enemy submarine and was not able to locate it. The Russell had two more months of training before joining Task Force 17 and help escort the Hornet during the invasion of Guadalcanal. She rescued the crew of the Hornet before it sank. In 1944, the Russell trained near Hawaii before heading west again. In 1945, she was attacked by multiple planes, but was able to carry out her screening duties.  She then participated in the Okinawa offensive. The Russell was overhauled and decommissioned in November 1945.

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.