USS Teruzuki DD-960 (1960-1993)

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Constructed as part of the Military Aid Program, this Fletcher-class destroyer was laid down by the Japanese company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, on August 15, 1958. It was commissioned into the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in February 1960. This Japanese organization is comprised of the unified military forces of Japan, which was established after the post-World War II occupation of Japan ended. This force is part of the U.S. and Japan Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, which was ratified in March, 1954.

Although this ship served in a foreign nation’s military, in recent years, vessels in this defense force have engaged in international peacekeeping operations. Japan’s Prime Minister is the Commander-in-Chief of the Self Defense forces, which is comprised of five maritime districts, five army units and three air defense forces. These forces are also very unique, with all personnel technically being civilians. The basic policy of the Self Defense Forces is to maintain a strict defense-oriented policy, refrain from becoming a threatening military presence and maintain security arrangements with the United States.

The Teruzuki was modeled after the Fletcher-class destroyer, which was highly successful during World War II. Around 150 Fletcher-class destroyers were constructed during World War II, with many eventually being sold or transferred to other nations. A highly robust ship, the last destroyer of this class was retired in 2001, after 60 years of active service. The Teruzuki itself was active until 1993, having served for over 30 years before being broken up 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.

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