USS Southard DD-207 (1919-1946)

The USS Southard was built in Philadelphia and commissioned September 1919. The Southard was a Clemson class destroyer. The ship was named for Samuel L. Southard, Secretary of the Navy from 1823 to 1829. The Southard spent her first year of service patrolling the U.S. East Cost and steamed forth to the Mediterranean in 1920. From there, she was deployed to the Far East, where she remained on patrol until August 1922. Then she was sent to the West Coast where she was placed in reserve in 1923. In January 1930 the Southard was placed back into service in the Pacific Fleet. She did, during the next decade, make a few trips to the Atlantic coast. In 1940, as international problems escalated, the Southard was sent in to be retrofitted into a mine sweeper and reclassified as DMS-10 in October of that year.

Action in World War II

After her make over, the Southard was sent back to the Pacific and was on patrol in Hawaiian waters when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. The Southard stayed in the Hawaiian region, making escort trips between the islands and the West Cost until July 1942 when she was sent to the South Pacific to take part in the fight for Guadalcanal. The Southard remained in the South Pacific through the end of 1945, participating in convoy duties and mine sweeping missions. Late in 1943 she was a part of the Bougainville Campaign. She went on to perform duties in Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa during her tour of duty. On January 6, 1945, during mine sweeping duty as part of the Lingayen Gulf Operation, the Southard was struck by a Kamikaze plane. Sustaining a great deal of damage, she was sent into Hawaii for repairs. After receiving repairs, the Southard was sent back to Japanese waters where she remained until after the surrender.

After the War

In September and October, after avoiding damage from Japanese ships and planes, the Southard was subjected to two typhoons and ran aground. The last storm ruined the boat and she was declared a total loss. The Southard was decommissioned in December 1945 and destroyed in 1946.

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. References: