The USS Schley was originally launched on March 28, 1918, and commissioned that September under the command of Comdr. R.C. Giffin. She spent the years after the First World War performing transport and station duty around Europe and in the Mediterranean. After this, she was taken out of commission in 1922.
Action in World War II
By 1940, war had overtaken Europe once more and there were stirrings of conflict in the Pacific. The Schley was recommissioned and sent to Pearl Harbor, where she was docked when the Japanese attacked the port the next year. Her overhaul was completed quickly and she patrolled the area around Hawaii until December of 1942.
After being converted into a fast transport ship, the Schley headed to the south Pacific for training, patrol, and escort duty. Her first landing of troops took place on June 30, 1943, at New Georgia, followed by a second landing a week later. Then the Schley returned to port for overhaul and repairs, after which she joined the task force that was preparing to raid the Marshall Islands. She successfully landed her troops on January 31, 1944, and then patrolled the area for enemy submarines.
The next few months brought more escort and convoy operations, as well as providing gunfire support for more landings. After a May 19 landing at Niroemoar Island, she was able to rescue the crew of a U.S. barge, and then sink two Japanese barges and take out a shore battery. The Schley was a key part of the recapture of the Philippines, helping the navy to prepare for the invasion at Leyte.
While landing troops at Ormoc Bay in December, the Schley’s task force was attacked by Japanese suicide planes. Though the USS Ward was sunk, the Schley suffered no damage, and was able to continue to avoid kamikaze attack during several more patrols. By July 5, 1945, she was considered no longer fit for front-line service, simply due to age. The war ended while she was being overhauled.
After the War
A little more than a month after the official Japanese surrender, the Schley was sent to Philadelphia for decommissioning. She was struck from the official Naval Register on December 5, and then scrapped in March of the following year. Overall, she earned 11 battle stars.
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.