The USS Vogelgesang was laid down on August 3, 1944, by the Bethlehem Steel Company of Staten Island, New York, and launched on January 15, 1945. Her sponsor was Miss Senaid Vogelgesang. She was officially commissioned on April 28 at the New York Navy Yard. Commander O.W. Spahr was at her helm. The displacement of the Vogelgesang was 2,425 tons, and she had a length of 390’6″. Her beam was 40’10” and she had a draft of 18’6″. The top speed of the Vogelgesang was 34.6 knots. Her complement was 345 officers and enlisted men.
Service in the Mediterranean
The Vogelgesang did her shakedown in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She then reported for gunnery exercizes in Newport, Rhode Island. On November 10, 1947, she was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. After a series of exercises she returned to Norfolk for duties with the 2nd Fleet. These entailed patrolling the East Coast. She was then deployed once again to the Mediterranean Sea for more maneuvers with the 6th Fleet.
On 14 May the Vogelgesang headed back to her home port of Norfolk, where she underwent a two-month upkeep. The next eight years would have the Vogelgesang alternating between duties in the Mediterranean Sea, patrolling the American East Coast and the West Indies. She established a number of ports of call throughout these duties. In total, she carried out five tours of duty to the Mediterranean Sea.
After a stint back on the American coast, the Vogelgesang headed back to the Mediterranean in 1957. This time she also visited the Indian Ocean and ports of call in Aden and Massawa in Eritrea. Her next deployment took her to the Suez Canal. She also headed to a number of Middle Eastern ports of call in Bahrein and Abadan in Iran. November 1964 saw her back in action in European waters for amphibious maneuvers on Operation Steel Pike I.
Action in Vietnam
In the summer of 1966, she was sent to her first Pacific deployment, where she saw action in the Gulf of Tonkin, killing 70 enemy combatants and wounding 40 more. After stops to Hong Kong and Taiwan, she returned to Norfolk, her only combat cruise completed. She then took up her regular duty in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.
The USS Vogelgesang received two battle stars for her valor and service in Vietnam. She was officially decommissioned on February 24, 1982, and sold to Mexico, where she was renamed the Quetzalcoatl and served for another 20 years. Finally, in 2006, she was sunk to create an artificial reef.
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.