USS Upshur DD 144 (AG-103)

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The USS Upshur served in the United States Naval fleet from the years 1918-1945. She played a very important role in the Atlantic Battle against German U-boats.

Service in World War II

Right after joining the Convoy ON-63 in September 1941, the Upshur traveled south with over 40 commercial ships, escorting the ships through the treacherous submarine filled seas. The USS Upshur’s scouts identified a German submarine, sailing on the top of the water, approximately three miles from the group of commercial ships. The USS Upshur began to pursue the submarine, but the German crew on board the submarine had spotted the warship and the U-boat dived and escaped.

The USS Upshur and USS Ingham patrolled the Atlantic region, dispersing 30 explosive charges prior to turning back and rejoining the convoy. The USS Upshur once again spotted the German submarine a mere thousand yards away from the commercial ships. Snapping to maximum speed, the ship advanced within firing range of the elusive submarine, the ship unleashed a barrage of gunfire but the submarine once again was able to submerge and move away without being damaged. Fortunately, the merchant ships were able to deliver their goods to several European nations in the region.

During the next twenty months, the Upshur performed her duties and escorted several merchant ships through the war torn Atlantic. She was also dispatched as far away as the Mediterranean Sea and served as a lead escort ship involving convoys in the Caribbean Sea.

The Upshur continued to perform duties state side in Virginia and Rhode Island, operating as an aircraft escort ship and as used as a target ship during training missions for aircraft carriers in the region. The ship was reclassified as AG-103 and was escorting aircraft for USS Lake Champlain when the Japanese surrendered, ending the war. The ship was sold in 1947 to a recycling company in Philadelphia and scrapped one year later.

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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