The USS Stevenson DD-645 was the second ship to be named John H. Stevenson. The Gleaves-class destroyer was constructed by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Kearny, New Jersey and laid down on July 23rd, 1942. Her sponsor was Miss Mary Stevenson, who was the daughter of Pay Inspector Stevenson, and the USS Stevenson was put into commission on December 15th, 1942. Her captain was Lieutenant Commander Thomas C. Greene.
Action in World War II
In late December, she took part in her shakedown. On February 4th, 1943 she lost a section of her bow when she ran into the USS Berwind Vale near Newport, Rhode Island. After repairs at Brooklyn Navy Yard were complete, she acted as an escort between the United States east coast and North African ports for 5 merchant convoys. From March until December of 1943, she fired on many suspected enemy submarines, but none were hit.
She left Norfolk to for the Southwest Pacific, joining the 7th Fleet on January 23rd, 1944. On February 29th, 1944, just after her arrival, she took part in the landings on Los Negros Islands in the Admiralties, providing fire support. She then took part in numerous assaults along the New Guinea coast for the next five months; she was a part of landings at Humboldt Bay in April, Wakde in May and Noenfoor and Sansapor in July. She left New Guinea on August 20th to meet up with the invasion force at the Palau Islands. Her duties included guarding transports to and from Palau. When this was complete, she made her way to Seattle, Washington for repairs on October 14th.
In need of training, she stayed in Seattle until January 27th, 1945. From Pearl Harbor, she departed for Ulithi. Her next duty was to provide support for the Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles, and the strikes on the Japanese home islands. She escorted various units of the Logistic Support Group during this time. She made it through a typhoon on June 5th, and after Japan’s surrender she supported Admiral Halsey’s carriers, only 200 miles from the shores of Japan. She then helped with occupation efforts for a short time, surviving another typhoon from October 9th through the 11th. After the storm, she made her way home and got to Charleston, South Carolina on January 20th, 1946. Placed in reserve and put out of commission on April 27th, 1946. On June 1st, 1968, she was struck from the lists.
She was awarded seven battle stars for her service during the war.
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.