The USS Waters was a Wickes class destroyer that was built in Camden, New Jersey, in the early 1900s. She was commissioned in August 1918 with the task of escorting ships across the Atlantic Ocean. This 1,090 ton destroyer made two voyages to England and Ireland, as well as one voyage to the Azores during the last three months of World War I.
Between the Wars
The first eight months after the cease fire found the Waters operating mostly along the outer areas of the Eastern Coast of the United States. However, in May 1919 this destroyer became a part of the plane guard line for the trans-Atlantic flight attempt to fly Navy NC seaplanes into the area. The Waters also could be found off the coast of Hawaii towards the end of 1919, along South America coasts during the early months of 1921, and then finally in the Far East from the middle of 1921 until the middle of 1922. Towards the end of 1922, this destroyer was decommissioned and docked in San Diego, California.
After almost eight years of being idle, the Waters once again became a commissioned destroyer in 1930. She spent the next six years stationed in various California ports. During those times, though, the ship did make a voyage to Hawaii in 1932 and cruised through the Atlantic and the Caribbean in 1934. In July of 1936 the Waters shipped to Hawaii and played a large role in developing defenses against submarine sonar warfare. In 1939 this destroyer was reassigned off of the West Coast, where the sonar studies continued until 1941. At the beginning of the Pacific War in December of 1941 the USS Waters conducted searches for Japanese submarines and once again became an escort for various ships.
Action in World War II
The conversion of the Waters into a high speed transport designated APD-8 finished in February of 1943, after which she was sent to take part in combat operations in the south Pacific. Between June 1943 and April 1944 this destroyer offered support to numerous amphibious operations at Emirau, Bougainville, Vella Lavella, New Georgia, Rendova, and the Treasury and Green Islands. During this time the Waters not only fought several skirmishes with aircraft, but was also responsible for the rescue of survivors from the sinking cruiser USS Helena.
The Waters once again shifted areas to the central Pacific region and aided in the campaign to capture Saipan in June of 1944 and Tinian in July. After these war operations the ship joined forces with the efforts focused on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The Waters was once again re-designated DD-115 in August of 1945 when she was docked in San Pedro, California, for an overhaul.
After the War
From there, considering that this ship had served many hard years, it was decided that she was not needed in the post war fleets, so the Waters was once again decommissioned in October of 1945. Shortly after being permanently docked, this destroyer was taken off of the standing Navy list and sold as scrap metal in May of 1946. Overall, she earned seven battle stars in the Second World 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.