USS Soley DD-707 (1944-1970)
The USS Soley (DD-707) took its name from James R. Soley, a historian of Naval history, during the Civil War. The Navy commissioned the Soley on December 7, 1944 and ordered the Soley to serve in the Pacific with Task Unit, TU, 96.15.1. The task unit steamed to the Island of Kusaie to accept the Japanese garrison surrender on September 7, 1945 from General Harada of the Imperial Japanese Army. From October to December of 1945, the Soley aided other ships in transporting Japanese prisoners to Kwajalein for war trials. Finally, the Soley sailed for home in February 1946. She arrived in port at Charleston Navy yard and was decommissioned on April 15, 1947.
Action in the Korean War
The Navy re-commissioned the Soley on January 29, 1949. She joined Destroyer Squadron 20 out of Norfolk, Virginia. On August 4, 1950, the Soley sailed to the Mediterranean where she was assigned to the 6th Fleet. She returned to Norfolk for a major overhaul in January 1951. After the overhaul, the Soley joined the Pacific Fleet once again, arriving in Yokosuka, Japan on June 18, 1952.
In Korea, the Soley served with Task Force 77 in operations off of Korea form June 22 to July 1, 1952, screening the task force while the carriers conducted raids on North Korea and the Yalu River. Later, the Soley departed for naval gunfire support operations on the Korean Peninsula. She joined the battleship the Iowa BB-61 and the cruiser the Helena for bombardment of Wonsan, Kojo, and Kosong from July 9 to July 22. The Soley continued in other operations along the Korean coast blockading the North Korean coast, bombarding targets on the mainland, and serving as a rescue ship until early October where she returned Norfolk, Virginia, for a brief one year stay at home. She then prepared to deploy for her second round-the-world cruise back to the Far East in January of 1954, returning home in August of 1954.
In the late 1950’s, the Soley cruised to the Mediterranean a few more times and then in the fall of 1962, she served with Quarantine forces off the Coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis until December of 1962. For her last years of service, the Soley served with the Atlantic Fleet and was decommissioned on April 1, 1964 and was then sunk as a target on July 1, 1970.
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.