The USS Thompson, the second destroyer to bear that name, was launched in July of 1942 and commissioned in July of the following year. After training at Massachusetts and Maine, she began operations on the east coast.
Action in World War II
In October of 1943 the USS Thompson-DD 627 proved its superiority by escorting and keeping ships in formation while patrolling for enemy submarines off the East Coast waters. This was the destroyer’s mission, though she was occasionally ordered to rendezvous with other ships to French Morocco, Trinidad, England, Scotland and the Irish coastline in 1944. With these other ships, she practiced shore bombardments and anti E boat exercises, which were preliminary training for the landing at Normandy. The Thompson arrived off Point du Hoc with its guns trained out, ready for three days of shelling, hitting every target in its sight.
Continuing German encounters and successful attacks continued after her return to Omaha beach from
June 8 to 11. On June 12 the Thompson carried high ranking officers including General Dwight D. Eisenhower to watch the war action at Omaha beach and then back to Plymouth. In the fall of 1944 the Thompson saw action along the North African coast and French beachheads, and then patrolled off the U.S. east coast conducting gunnery and anti-aircraft exercises. After the Japanese surrender, the Thompson was commissioned to Buckner Bay in Okinawa to sweep for and destroy mines.
After the War
In early 1946 the Thompson continued with her sweeping operations in the Bikini Atoll in preparation for atomic bomb testing. In October 1950, the destroyer was one of the ships to patrol off the Wake Islands during the meeting of General Mac Arthur and President Harry Truman. War was heating up for the United Nations warships and the Eighth Army troops in Chinnampo. The Thompson joined mine sweeping operations to open up lines by escorting ships, thus receiving a Navy Unit Commendation.
Remaining in Korea until the middle of 1951, she swept for mines and conducted shore bombardment duties. In June the destroyer was struck by shell fire, but not before destroying and damaging enemy gun emplacements. In August 1952 a Chinese battery fired on the destroyer, disabling it. After repairs at Sasebo, she was hit again in the North Korean harbor.
The Thompson returned to San Diego in 1953, becoming a Hollywood star in The Caine Mutiny. She went inactive in December of 1953, but it was redesignated DD-627 in July 1955. In 1971 she was removed from the Navy registry and scrapped the next year. The USS Thompson received two battle stars for WWII service and seven battle stars for Korean War service.
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.