The USS Truxtun (DD-229) was named after Naval Captain Thomas Truxtun who commanded the ship Constellation following the Revolutionary War. The Truxton was a 1,200 ton Clemson class destroyer built at Philadelphia and commissioned on February 16, 1921.
Between the Wars
Following shakedown, the Truxtun was assigned to Division 39, Destroyer Squadron 3 of the Atlantic Fleet. Reassigned to Division 43, Destroyer Squadron 15, she conducted maneuvers off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the winter of 1921 through 1922. In June 1922 she transferred to the Asiatic Fleet, transiting the Suez Canal and arriving off the northern coast of China in early September. The next month the fleet moved to its winter base at Manila and conducted exercises from there until spring 1923.
For the next decade, the Truxtun stayed in the Far East. The ship joined a picket line to support an around the world flight by the Army Air Corps in June 1924. Internal fighting in China took the destroyer to the Chinese coast, and she patrolled the Yangtze River several times to protect American citizens and interests. The Truxtun joined the Battle Force in 1932. From Alaska to the Panama Canal, she participated in maneuvers for the next seven years. She left the Pacific only once, in 1934, sailing through the canal to New York City and returning to the West Coast seven months later.
Action in World War II
On April 27, 1939 the ship left San Diego to join Destroyer Division 27, Atlantic Squadron. As war broke out in Europe, the Truxtun conducted neutrality patrols along the east coast, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. She made a trip to Casablanca, French North Africa, in the summer of 1940, returning to the United States to resume neutrality patrols off Florida and throughout the Caribbean.
After receiving repairs at Norfolk, she sailed to Newport, Rhode Island, to join Destroyer Division 63, Squadron 31. The Truxtun then made two trips to Halifax, Nova Scotia, returning to Washington D.C. both times. Heading back to homeport on March 15, she set about patrolling the North Atlantic and escorting convoys from the United States and Canada to Reykjavik, Iceland.
Destruction at Newfoundland
The Truxtun departed Boston on Christmas Day 1941, screening Convoy HX-168. Arriving at Reykjavik on January 13, 1942, she left for Argentina six days later with Convoy ON-57. While escorting the USS Pollux in Placentia Bay on February 18 she ran aground on Ferry-land Point. Almost immediately the ship broke apart. Despite heroic efforts by the local population, she lost 110 crew members. The Truxtun was struck from the Naval Register on March 25.
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.