The USS Simpson was named in honor of Edward Simpson, a New York native who served the Navy from 1840 until 1886. Simpson graduated with the first class of midshipmen at the Annapolis Naval Academy. His lengthy military service included the Mexican-American War, duty off Brazil and China, and missions to Europe. He became Commandant of Midshipmen in 1862 and served as President of the Naval Advisory and Inspection and Survey Boards from 1884-1886.
The USS Simpson was built in Philadelphia and was launched on November 3, 1920 with Lieutenant Commander P. T. Berry in the lead. Its first year was spent training with the Pacific Fleet. It then was overhauled on the east coast and sailed for the Mediterranean, protecting U.S. interests in Turkish waters during the postwar unrest in Asia Minor. The Simpson evacuated U.S. citizens from Smyrna when the Turks set fires against the Armenians. The ship also assisted with the evacuation of Greek refugees from Turkey and helped the American Relief Association in the area.
The Simpson moved to the Pacific for duty with the Asiatic Fleet in 1924. When unrest increased in China in 1925, the ship commenced patrols of the southern Chinese coast. For the next several years, it supplemented gunboat patrols, rescued missionaries, and supported American diplomats in Shanghai. The ship departed the area in April of 1932 and was overhauled in California.
The ship engaged in fleet exercises and other training near San Diego from September 1932 until May 1934, when it collided with the Milwaukee during night exercises. After repairs, the ship resumed operations with the Pacific Fleet. Exercises continued from November 1934 until late 1938. The ship then moved to the Atlantic and was assigned Neutrality Duty in the Caribbean when war broke out in Europe.
When the U.S. joined the war in December 1941, the ship took on transatlantic convoy duty. It escorted ships to the British Isles and Ireland, along the eastern coast of the U.S, and to Casablanca and Bermuda. It then took on antisubmarine patrol off the Archipelago of the Azores.
The Simpson was converted to a miscellaneous auxiliary in May of 1945. The ship was fitted with torpedo racks and a winch for trailing downed targets. It then steamed to Cuba in June for trainings. However, it was decommissioned shortly thereafter in June of 1946. It was berthed in Philadelphia, struck from the Naval Register, and sold to a local scrapyard.
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, includingÂ 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.