The USS Sproston was a U.S. Naval vessel named after John G. Sproston of Maryland. John Sproston was the commanding officer on the Powhatan and executive officer of the Senneca during the Civil War. During the battle for Port Royal, Lieutenant Sproston fired many of the Senneca’s guns himself, as his crew was not properly trained. He died in battle in 1862.
Action in World War II
The USS Sproston was built in Orange, Texas, and launched on August 31, 1942. In November 1943 she sailed for Pearl Harbor and then to the Aleutian Islands. On December 1, she was sent to Destroyer Squadron 49 and spent 2 months participating in gunnery exercises and practice. Finally in February 1944, she sailed to Kurabu Point on a bombardment mission. After 1 month, she and the taskforce went on to the sea of Okhotsk on a mission that was aborted due to poor visibility.
The Sproston spent her career in World War II in patrols, as an escort, and as a carrier ship, taking on many bombardment missions and assisting with the takedown of enemy planes and marine vessels. In July 1945, she went to the shipyard in San Francisco to prepare for overhaul and decommission. In January 1946, she was decommissioned and sent to San Diego.
Service in Vietnam and the Far East
In September 1950, the Sproston was recommissioned as DDE-577 and departed San Diego in 1951 to take part in the atomic bomb test in Eniwetok. In July she sailed on to Pearl Harbor to resume the normal duties and practice of a Pacific Fleet destroyer. In June 1952, she was sent to the Far East and assigned to Tack Force 77. After her time in the east, the Sproston returned to her home port at Pearl Harbor and became a member of DeRon 25. Over the next 10 years, she made nine trips to the Far East under operations with the 7th Fleet.
In 1962, the Sproston was redesignated DD-577. She continued normal operating duties for the next 2 years. Finally in March 1965, she underwent a 5-month overhaul in Pearl Harbor. She then sailed with crew to the Vietnam Coast, where she spent her time as a rescue and antisubmarine screening unit. The Sproston was responsible for many enemy camp bombardments and several enemy vehicles being destroyed during the Vietnam War. She was also selected for the Apollo spacecraft recovery.
After the War
The USS Sproston was finally decommissioned in September 1968, and her name was struck from the naval record in October. Three years later, she was sold to Taiwan for scrap. The Sproston earned a total of nine battle stars for her service—five for World War II, one for Korea, and three for Vietnam.
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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.