Action in World War II
The USS Watts (DD-567) was ready for service on December 31st, 1943, with Commander Joseph B. Maher in charge. The destroyer was assigned to serve with the DesDiv 113; this group was included in the Navy’s North Pacific Force. She was put to work as protection for other ships, bringing cargo in for the troops.
The Watts successfully attacked the enemy fleet on November 23rd and 24th, 1944. After this operation, the ship was in need of repair, which was done in Dutch Harbor. Later on January 3rd, 1945, the Watts left for northern Kurils. She united with other ships currently involved in the attack and was successful in firing against the Suribachi area near Paramushiro. On May 21st, the Watts was assigned to assist at Okinawa. The succeeded in splashing six of Japan’s fighter planes.
On September 10th, 1945, the destroyer was deployed to Tokyo Bay to battle the Japanese. She was a part of that mission until the middle of November, and then the ship was sent back to the U.S. The destroyer was placed on reserve until July 5th, 1951, at that time the Watts was sent to assist in the Korean War.
Action in the Korean Conflict
The Watts was assigned to the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. With this group of vessels, the ship was placed on protective duty until 1953. The Watts was then assigned to the 6th Fleet located in the Mediterranean Sea. She later was assigned to operations for the western Atlantic area, and was put to work practicing antisubmarine combat exercises.
The Watts was to be discharged in December 1957, however, the destroyer was needed and she was ordered to Seattle, WA, to be the lead ship in the Reserve Escort Squadron. The Watts was used for four years to provide naval training. The USS Watts was docked and put on reserve in December 1964, at Bremerton. She was berthed for almost 10 years. On February 1st, 1974, the destroyer was removed from the Navy reserve list, and was purchased by General Metals for scrap. The great ship was honored with three battle stars for her contributions during World War II.
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.