USS Wickes DD 578 (1942-1972)

The Wickes (DD-578) was laid down at Orange, Tex, on April 15, 1942, by the Consolidated Steel Co. Launched on September 13, 1942, sponsored by Lambert Wickes’s great-great-grandniece Miss Catherine Young Wickes, and commissioned on June 16, 1943, Lt Comdr. William Y. Allen, Jr., in command.

Action in World War II

On November 27th, the Wickes arrived at Pearl Harbor to conduct antisubmarine drills and screening duty for various task groups returning from operations from Gilbert Islands. Departing on December 10, 1943, she spent the next five months patrolling the Aleutian Islands. The Wickes took part in the bombardments against the Kuril Islands, Paramushiro and Matsuwa with Task Force (TF) 94 in February 1944.

The Wickes returned to Hawaiian waters in September and was assigned to the 7th Fleet to take part in the assault on Leyte in the Philippines. She arrived in the  Leyte Gulf on October 20, and spent most of her time there conducting screening and escorting duties, she also took part in various shore bombardments of Japanese gun emplacements. Arriving off Okinawa in March and during the next 51 days, the Wickes came under enemy aircraft fire 14 times and her gunners claimed five “kills”. She also rescued five men from a raft, fished out a crashed fighter pilot, and exploded mines with gunfire. After various other duties she made her way back states side arriving at Mare Island on July 14, 1945. With the end of the war she was put in reserve on December 20, 1945 and struck from the Navy list November 1972. The Wickes had earned five battle stars from her World War II service.

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.