Asbestos in the military

USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692)

USS-Allen-M.-SumnerDescription:  History of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) was ordered for the U.S. Navy on August 7, 1942. Her keel was laid down by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company on July 7, 1943. She was launched on December 15, 1943 and commissioned on January 26, 1944 under the command of Commander Norman J. Sampson.

After shakedown, USS Allen M. Sumner spent two months training destroyer crews out of Norfolk. She sailed for the Pacific on August 12, 1944, arriving at Pearl Harbor on September 14. The destroyer conducted exercises in Hawaii until she headed for the World War II fighting zone on October 23.

USS Allen M. Sumner joined Task Group 38.4 on November 19, sailing from Ulithi to accompany air craft carriers to their position off Yap Island to conduct air strikes on November 22. The ship returned to Ulithi that day, remaining there for five days before heading to patrol Leyte Gulf.

On December 2, the USS Allen M. Sumner headed to Ormoc Bay along with USS Moale and USS Cooper. That evening, she suffered a near miss from an enemy aircraft that started a fire on board. One officer and 12 men were injured by bomb fragments. She and the other destroyers in her group helped sink the Japanese destroyer Kuwa, but the destroyer Take sank the USS Cooper.

After this engagement, USS Allen M. Sumner put in at San Pedro Bay for repair and upkeep. She departed on December 12 as a part of the screen for Task Group 78.3 and the Mindoro Island landings. The destroyer provided close cover and took part in pre-invasion bombardment on December 15, clearing the way for troop landings with minimal opposition. She and the USS Moale shot down an enemy bomber before returning to Leyte and escorting a resupply convoy to Mindoro from December 26-29.

The USS Allen M. Sumner remained in San Pedro Bay to celebrate the New Year before departing to screen Task Group 77.2 on January 2, 1945. The Bombardment and Fire Support Group was headed for the invasion of Luzon. Four days out, the destroyer moved into Lingayen Gulf in support of minesweeping activities. The task group was attacked by kamikazes around noon, and the ship was struck by one of the aircraft near her after stack and after torpedo mount, killing 14 men and injuring 19 others. Her damage required her to leave Lingayen Gulf and rejoin the heavy units of the task group; she remained there to support operations until January 14, when she headed for Hunters Point Naval Shipyard via Manus, Majuro, and Pearl Harbor.

Repair work was completed by April 10, and USS Allen M. Sumner spent several months training destroyer crews before returning to Pearl Harbor. On August 12, she sailed from Pearl Harbor to rejoin the battle, but hostilities ended during her voyage. The destroyer rendezvoused with Task Group 38.3 on August 27 to conduct post-war patrols, later patrolling with Task Group 38.1.

After World War II, the USS Allen M. Sumner returned home to the United States and the training of new destroyer crews. She performed training duties along the West Coast from October 1945 until May 1946. The destroyer then supported Operation Crossroads, the atomic testing at Bikini Atoll.

USS Allen M. Sumner resumed training services at home until February 23, 1947. She then made a Far East cruise that included ports of call in Australia, the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, China, and Japan. When she returned home, she went in for overhaul and conducted local operations.

In 1949, the USS Allen M. Sumner was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, arriving at Hampton Roads on April 20. The destroyer operated out of Norfolk for the next four years, training in antisubmarine warfare and making a Mediterranean deployment with the Sixth Fleet from November 1950 until March 1951.

During the Korean War, USS Allen M. Sumner was involved in only one war zone deployment. She departed Norfolk on April 24, 1953 and arrived at Yokosuka in June. The destroyer joined Task Force 77 as a plane guard and antisubmarine screening ship for the carrier group. She was on duty when hostilities ended on July 27. From there, the ship patrolled along the southern coast of Korea with Task Force 95. She arrived back home at Norfolk on October 27.

After the Korean War, the USS Allen M. Sumner spent the next eight years operating along the East Coast, in the West Indies, and in European waters. During this time, she participated in NATO exercises, supported the evacuation of American citizens during the Suez crisis, and conducted independent duty in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

Upon her return home in the spring of 1961, USS Allen M. Sumner underwent modernization overhaul, which lasted until January 2, 1962. She resumed operations along the East Coast and in the Mediterranean. When the Cuban Missile Crisis began, the destroyer was one of the first American warships to take station for the naval quarantine off Cuba. From there, she headed to her new homeport in Mayport for normal operations, including serving as a school ship for the Fleet Sonar School.

The next few years for the USS Allen M. Sumner involved local operations, Mediterranean cruises, and supporting operations in the Dominican Republic during political struggles there in early 1965. In July 1966, she served as a support ship for the Gemini 10 space mission.

The USS Allen M. Sumner left Mayport for her Vietnam War deployment on February 7, 1967. While there, she participated in Operation Seadragon, Operation Beau Charger, and a number of support missions. The destroyer headed for home in August, arriving at Mayport on September 10.

After the Vietnam War, USS Allen M. Sumner resumed local operations and her European tours. She was reassigned as a Naval Reserve Training Ship on July 1, 1971 out of Baltimore. The destroyer was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on August 15, 1973 and sold for scrap on October 16, 1974. She earned two battle stars for her service in World War II, one battle star in the Korean War, and two battle stars in the Vietnam War.

Like other ships from the World War II era, the USS Allen M. Sumner was built using asbestos-containing materials. The toxic substance asbestos was prized for its resistance to fire, heat, water, and corrosion, so it could be found in virtually all areas of the destroyer. Anyone who served onboard the USS Allen M. Sumner or was involved in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing serious asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

USS Allen M. Sumner workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma.  Anyone who worked in or around the USS Allen M. Sumner, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

Other Allen M. Sumner class destroyers include:

USS Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752)

USS Ault (DD-698)

USS Barton (DD-722)

USS Beatty (DD-756)

USS Blue (DD-744)

USS Borie (DD-704)

USS Bristol (DD-857)

USS Brush (DD-745)

USS Buck (DD-761)

USS Charles S. Sperry (DD-697)

USS Collett (DD-730)

USS Compton (DD-705)

USS Cooper (DD-695)

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

USS De Haven (DD-727)

USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779)

USS Drexler (DD-741)

USS English (DD-696)

USS Gainard (DD-706)

USS Hank (DD-702)

USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD-708)

USS Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748)

USS Haynsworth (DD-700)

USS Henley (DD-762)

USS Hugh Purvis (DD-709)

USS Hugh W. Hadley (DD-774)

USS Hyman (DD-732)

USS Ingraham (DD-694)

USS James C. Owens (DD-776)

USS John A. Bole (DD-755)

USS John R. Pierce (DD-753)

USS John W. Thomason (DD-760)

USS John W. Weeks (DD-701)

USS Laffey (DD-724)

USS Lofberg (DD-759)

USS Lowry (DD-770)

USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729)

USS Maddox (DD-731)

USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733)

USS Mansfield (DD-728)

USS Massey (DD-778)

USS Meredith (DD-726)

USS Moale (DD-693)

USS O’Brien (DD-725)

USS Purdy (DD-734)

USS Putnam (DD-757)

USS Robert K. Huntington (DD-781)

USS Samuel N. Moore (DD-747)

USS Soley (DD-707)

USS Stormes (DD-780)

USS Strong (DD-758)

USS Taussig (DD-746)

USS Waldron (DD-699)

USS Wallace L. Lind (DD-703)

USS Walke (DD-723)

USS Willard Keith (DD-775)

USS Zellars (DD-777)

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