The USS William H. Standley was completed in July of 1963 at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works. She was officially commissioned on July 6th of the yearÂ 1966. The ship was a Belknap-class destroyer/cruiser, making its first voyage on December 19, 1964.
The ship was first launched as the DLG-32, a frigate designation, later reclassified in 1975 as the cruiser CG-32. The ship was also retrofitted to become a guided missile carrier. This proved to be very valuable during the cold war against the Soviet Union. The ship was an impressive fighting vessel and sported an immense cache of weapons on board, including missile launchers, a 54-caliber gun and various rocket launchers. The ship carried 27 officers and 450 enlisted men.
In January 1967, following a shakedown cruise in the Boston area, the ship made its way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After this initial shakedown tour of Guantanamo Bay, the ship was made the flagship to the Rear Admiral E. R. Bonner, the admiral in charge of Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla 6 during training exercises in the region. The ship then returned to the Boston harbor for an extensive overhaul. In June of 1967, the William Standley set sail for another mission, this time in the Canary Islands, a place not commonly visited by naval vessels at the time. When the tour of the Canary Islands was complete, the ship set sail for Florida and became the flagship for Destroyer Squadron 8.
The USS William Standley continued to serve in many capacities within the United States naval fleet and was a very important player in the 1960s and 1970s. The ship proved valuable during the Vietnam War, the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the crisis of Greco-Turkish crisis on the island of Cyprus. This ship provided support during these years and was a major asset to the navy, using her communication systems, tactical data collection facilities and weaponry.
The ship served in the United States navy for over 27 years and was decommissioned on February 11, 1994. She was sunk off the coast of Australia as part of a training exercise on June 25, 2005. Today the ship serves as an artificial reef in the Coral Sea.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, naval cruisers 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, includingÂ 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.