USS Turner DD-648 (1943-1944)

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Captain Daniel Turner was honored by being named for a destroyer called USS Turner (DD 648). This destroyer was a Gleaves class destroyer and was the second vessel of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the Captain. The Turner was laid down on November 16, 1942, in New Jersey by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.  She was launched on February 28, 1943, and was commissioned on April 15 with Lieutenant Commander Henry S. Wargant in command.

Action in World War II

At the New York Navy Yard, the destroyer completed her outfitting then proceeded to antisubmarine warfare training and shakedown out of Maine until the early parts of June. After a brief return to New York, the Turner departed on the following day for her first genuine wartime assignment in the Convoy UGS 11. On June 24, the fleet left Hampton Roads and journeyed eastward across the Atlantic. After this voyage, the destroyer escorted her convoy to port in Casablanca, French Morocco.

During the first part of September, the destroyer led anti-submarine warfare training at Casco Bay, Maine, and later returned to New York in order to prepare for a second transatlantic voyage with another convoy. Following a passage that took 18 days, the Turner left again to join another convoy in the direction of Gibraltar. While performing anti-submarine duties there on October 23, she spotted a German submarine and likely sunk it, but she had to break radio contact to avoid a collision, so there is no definitive evidence of a sinking.

Destruction in New York Bay

After another successful Atlantic crossing, the Turner anchored at Ambrose Light in Lower New York Bay on January 2, 1944.  The next morning, the ship reported a series of internal explosions and began to sink.  By 8:23 am, the ship was completely underwater, taking 15 officers and 123 enlisted men down with her.  The survivors were treated at a New Jersey hospital, and a helicopter was used to fly in much-needed blood plasma from New York — the first recorded use of a helicopter to save lives.

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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