The USS Tarbell (DD-142) was named for Joseph Tarbell who served during the War of 1812. The Tarbell was commissioned on November 27, 1918, under the command of Destroyer Division 15. Between 1920 and 1921 she served for a short time in the Asiatic Fleet, before returning to the Pacific Fleet. In 1922 she was decommissioned and stored in San Diego, California.
Action in World War II
In 1930 she was recommissioned and served in various capacities until late 1936 when she was again decommissioned, this time in Philadelphia. She stayed there until war broke out in Europe in 1939. During this time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the Neutrality Proclamation and ordered the Navy to patrol the U.S. borders. That October the Tarbell was recommissioned and restored to active duty. In the beginning months of the war, the Tarbell was assigned to convoy duties and antisubmarine missions off the North Atlantic coast. She was also assigned the task of rescuing U.S. crew members that fell victim to German U-Boat attacks.
In 1942 she was given the mission of conducting surveillance on Vichy French warships. Her goal was to ensure that the enemy did not gain possession of any supplies or ammunition that may have been on the French warships. In May she heard word of her sister ship the USS Blakely being torpedoed. She left port so hurriedly to aid the survivors that she left several crew members and a few officers on shore in Puerto Rico where they were docked. Upon arriving at the wreckage she was able to rescue many of the crew and aided in the search for the enemy U-boat that was responsible for the damage.
In December of 1943 she was assigned, along with the carrier Mission Bay and the entire Destroyer Division 61, to provide protection for convoy UGS-28 and then participate in a hunter/kill group in the area of the Azores. Later that month, one of her sister ships was crippled in battle and the Tarbell towed her to safety. After being relieved of her towing duties she returned to the fighting.
After the War
After the war she served in alternating capacities as a convoy ship or target for training missions. She was decommissioned one final time on July 20, 1945, and stricken from the Naval Lists on August 13, 1945. In November, she was sold to the Boston Metal Salvage Company 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.