USS Sands DD-243 (1920-1945)
The USS Sands was named after Rear Admirals Benjamin Sands and James Sands. This naval vessel, built in New Jersey in March 1919 as a Clemson class destroyer, was launched in October 1919 and commissioned in November 1920.
Between the Wars
Her first assignment was in Europe at both French and British ports. The destroyer left in August for Asia Minor to support the relief services needed in the poor economic areas. From January to August 1922, the vessel assisted relief efforts in Turkey, and Russia. The destroyer was overhauled in Philadelphia. In December, the ship began a journey to the Caribbean for maneuvers in January. A schedule of exercises was maintained until November 1930 before returning to Philadelphia. The 1930s brought a series of decommissioning and recommissioning, during which the Sands primarily remained in U.S. and Caribbean waters.
Action in World War II
When the U.S. entered the war, the Sands spent the first two years performing escort and patrol duties. Reclassified as APD-13 in October, she was then sent to the Pacific to perform exercises, gunfire support, and transport, escort, and patrol duties. In January of 1943, she was part of a group of eight ships headed from Tulagi when Japanese torpedo planes attacked. One ship in the party sank, but the Sands was able to rescue survivors and take them to Espiritu Santo.
She spent the remainder of 1943 and 1944 carrying out various missions in the Pacific islands, including troop and supply transport and support of landing forces. In early 1945, she faced Japanese aircraft in San Pedro Bay, but was able to avoid the kamikaze attacks. After performing mostly escort and transport duties, she returned to Pearl Harbor, and from there to San Diego, where she remained until the end of the war.
After the War
The USS Sands was decommissioned in October 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and sold for scrap metal in spring 1946. She earned nine battle stars for her service.
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.