The USS Turner Joy, a Forrest Sherman/Hull class destroyer, was commissioned in the summer of 1959. She was built in Seattle, Washington, and named for US Navy Admiral Charles Turner Joy, who served in the Korean War. For her first journey, she traveled down the west coast to South America. From there she was sent on the first of her many deployments across the Pacific Ocean, into Asian waters.
Action in Vietnam and the Arabian Sea
After returning briefly to the United States in 1960, the Turner Joy was sent out to the eastern Pacific and then to a tour with the Pacific’s Seventh Fleet in the last six months of 1962. During a 1964 cruise in the western Pacific, she was part of a group which was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedoes in the Gulf of Tonkin. This was one of the very first incidents in which the United States was involved in conflict in Southeast Asia during the 1960’s.
The Turner Joy was deployed with the Pacific’s Seventh Fleet several more times, throughout the 1960’s and into the 1970’s. During most of these deployments, she was in action in Vietnam. Most of the time the Turner Joy was acting as an escort for convoys and other ships, but occasionally she supported ground troops by firing her guns at the shore. In 1965 and 1967, the Turner Joy was damaged by gunfire. In 1973, after the US reached an agreement with North Vietnam, she was part of a mission, called Endsweep, to clear Unites States mines from the waters around North Vietnam.
Over the next ten years, the Turner Joy was deployed several more times to the western Pacific Ocean. Over her deployment in 1975- 1976, she steamed to the Arabian Sea. While in the Arabian Sea, the Turner Joy participated in training and exercises with other United States vessels, and ships from Iran, Pakistan, and Great Britain.
Around this time, the United States Navy decided to decommission all the ships in the Turner Joy’s class. She was decommissioned in November of 1982. During the next seven years, she was kept as part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet in case of national emergency. In 1990 the USS Turner Joy was stricken from the Navy’s books and in 1991 became a museum in Bremerton, Washington, representing the state of the US Navy during the Cold War.
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.