USS Sarsfield DD-837 (1945-1977)
The USS Sarsfield DD-837 was a Gearing-class destroyer. It was laid down on January 15, 1945. The Bath Iron Works Co., located in Bath, Maine built the vessel. It was then launched on May 27, 1945. The Sarsfield weighed 3,460 tons and measured 390 feet six inches in length. It had the capability of sailing at 36.8 knots per hour. The Sarsfield had a complement of 367 officers and enlisted men. She was commissioned on July 31, 1945 with Commander Hepburn A. Pierce taking command.
Following her shakedown, the Sarsfield sailed on October 25 for New York to join in the Navy Day celebration. In December, she went on to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where she underwent the installation of various experimental equipment. On February 1, 1946 she headed for Key West, Florida. Upon arrival she spent the next 20 years with the Operational Development Force. This basically consisted of her participation in the testing and review of new equipment and weapons. In 1957 she entered the Norfolk Navy Yard where she underwent an overhaul. During the following years she spent most of her time completing various exercises. Then, in January, 1970 she spent six months at Charleston, South Carolina. After going through an overhaul she then spent eight weeks receiving refresher training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and then returned to Mayport for the remainder of the year completing local operations.
In April 1972, the Sarsfield arrived at Subic Bay, Philippines. There she acted as plane guard for the Saratoga. She also assisted in a number of shore bombardment missions. Following stops in Hong Kong and Yokosuka, Japan, she returned to San Diego in October. On June 14, 1974, most of the Sarsfield’s minority sailors protested what they saw as racism. The sailors stayed on the fantail. They refused their orders to assist in a difficult mooring. When superior officers demanded their cooperation all but seven of them followed their orders. The seven sailors then left the ship without the authority to do so. Later they were apprehended and charged with mutiny among other things. Eventually they were all convicted of lesser charges.
The USS Sarsfield DD-837 was removed from the Naval Register on October 1, 1977. She was then transferred to the Republic of China on the same day. She was decommissioned at Kaohsiung, Taiwan on April 1, 2005. On January 22, 2009 she was towed to the Anping Port in Tainan City where plans were underway to make her a museum ship.
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.