The naval vessel USS Stansbury was named after John Stansbury, who served in the Navy during the Battle of 1812 and was killed at the Battle of Lake Champlain on 11 September, 1814. The ship was built in 1918 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in San Francisco and commissioned in January 1920.
The Stansbury served in the Pacific for two years but was decommissioned in May, 1922 and sent to San Diego, where she stayed inactive for eighteen years. When World War II broke out, she was recommissioned in August 1940 and converted to a high speed mine sweeper.
Action in World War II
For the next three years, the Stansbury served with the Atlantic Fleet conducting escort and minesweeping duties and maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea. During an escort of the City of Birmingham steamship, the steamer was hit by a German torpedo from the German submarine U-202 near North Carolina. The Stansbury drove off the submarine and rescued the surviving 373 seamen and passengers.
In October 1942, the Stansbury joined Task Force 34 and set out for the invasion of North Africa. At Fedala near Casablanca, she and other ships swept the waters for mines. When the Elektra, a cargo ship, was hit on 15 November, the Stansbury and others kept her afloat until she could be beached the next day at Casablanca. In December, the Stansbury went back to Virgina and patrolled the Atlantic coast for the next year. At the end of 1943, she sailed through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet. She was assigned to Task Force 53 and sent to the Marshall Islands where she helped patrol the South Pacific, visiting islands such as the Solomans and New Hebrides.
In June 1944, the Stansbury met with Task Force 58 off the coast of Saipan to clear mines along with nine other high speed minesweepers. She then helped protect the warships from Japanese submarines. When the invasion force arrived, she helped cover them, and then moved on to Guam to help with that attack, patrolling for submarines.
After the War
The Stansbury headed back to California in August, 1944. She spent five months being overhauled at the General Engineering and Dry Dock Co. in San Francisco, and then was sent to San Diego in January 1945, where she became a training ship for the Fleet Operational Training Command. In September, the Stansbury sailed back through the Panama Canal to Virginia where she was decommissioned on December 11, 1945. For her service in World War II, the USS Stansbury received three battle stars. In 1946, the ship was struck from the naval register and subsequently sold for scrap.
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.