Description: History of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bagley (DD-386) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.
The USS Bagley was ordered for the U.S. Navy between World War I and World War II. Her keel was laid down at Norfolk Navy Yard on July 31, 1935. She was launched on September 3, 1936 and commissioned on June 12, 1937 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Earl W. Morris.
During her early career, USS Bagley operated in the Atlantic before she was transferred to Pearl Harbor in 1940. She conducted exercises with Destroyer Division 7 and participated in carrier task force operations with the USS Enterprise and USS Lexington. The destroyer was moored at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. Her gunners helped splash enemy aircraft before she put out to sea.
On December 29, the USS Bagley covered the arrival of Task Force 14 at Pearl Harbor. She sailed for the USS Saratoga the following day to patrol the Hawaiian waters. The carrier was damaged by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-16 on January 11, 1942, and the destroyer escorted her back to base for repairs.
USS Bagley joined Task Force 11 on January 31, covering the transportation of reinforcements to Christmas Island, Canton Island, and New Caledonia. She then moved toward Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. On February 20, the destroyer fired upon a wave of enemy bombers. A kamikaze attempted to crash her stern, but the plane was splashed by the USS Aylwin. After this engagement, the ship headed back to Pearl Harbor for repairs and overhaul.
Once her yard work was completed, the USS Bagley departed to deliver mail and passengers to Christmas Island, Palmyra Island, and the Society Islands. She rendezvoused with the USS Hunter Liggett off Bora Bora on May 9 to escort her to Fiji. The destroyer remained in the area to patrol for enemy submarines until she moved on to arrive at Brisbane on May 30.
From there, USS Bagley joined Task Force 44, the Southwest Pacific Force, protecting Allied shipping in the approaches to Australia. She moved on to New Zealand on July 20 to join Task Force 62 for Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Guadalcanal. During the Battle of Savo Island on August 8, the destroyer helped rescued 400 survivors from the burning USS Astoria and delivered a salvage team to attempt recovery of the cruiser; recovery efforts failed. She then headed to Nouméa with Task Force 62.
The USS Bagley was reassigned to Task Force 74 on March 15, 1943. She helped escort six LSTs from Townsville to Woodlark Island at the end of June, making three more such trips in July and August. After that, she escorted the USS Henry T. Allen to her destination port, arriving at Brisbane on August 15. The destroyer continued to operate in New Guinea through December.
Two days before Christmas, USS Bagley escorted engineers, artillery, and stores of the 1st Marine Division to Cape Gloucester. On December 26, she helped screen the troop and equipment landings. In early 1944, the destroyer acted as a standby for supply echelons. She then headed to Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul.
After her yard work was complete, the USS Bagley got underway for Pearl Harbor on May 5, training en route for the invasion of the Mariana Islands. Her crew conducted drills once they reached Hawaii before she sailed for the Marshall Islands on May 29. She joined Task Group 58.2 on June 8 on their way to Saipan.
At Saipan, USS Bagley screened the initial troop landings on June 15. She rejoined the bombardment group two days later and took part in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, firing upon three enemy aircraft. After screening the battleships that pursued the retreating Japanese forces, the destroyer returned to the Marianas to conduct call-fire assignments.
USS Bagley helped screen the USS Enterprise in September during the strikes on Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands in September before moving on to raid Aparri and Formosa. She joined a cruiser-destroyer group to pursue retreating Japanese carriers following the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October. The destroyer then supported ground operations on Leyte.
On November 2, the USS Bagley put in at Ulithi for four days of overhaul. On November 10, she departed with Task Unit 77.4.1 as they provided air support for ground operations at Leyte. At the end of the month, she began training and repair work in preparation for the upcoming troop landings at Luzon. The destroyer headed for the Palaus at the end of December.
On New Year’s Day 1945, USS Bagley and the other 18 destroyers screening Task Groups 77.2 and 77.4 sortied from Kossol Roads. The task force was raided by kamikazes, sinking the carrier USS Ommaney Bay and badly damaging the destroyer USS Stafford.
In February, the USS Bagley was assigned to the invasion of Iwo Jima. After a rest of only six days for repairs and replenishment, she was then sent out to screen the carriers of Task Group 52.1 for the invasion of Okinawa. Her duties were completed without incident.
The USS Bagley blew out her main generator on May 24, requiring her to put in for repairs at Leyte. On June 15, she sailed for her final combat operation, supporting the carriers of Task Group 32.1 as they launched air strikes at Okinawa. When her main battery director failed a week later, she returned to Leyte for repairs.
Once her repair work was complete, USS Bagley escorted a merchant convoy to Okinawa. She was protecting a return convoy when she heard of the Japanese capitulation on August 15. After 10 days of rest and recreation, the destroyer embarked Rear Admiral Francis E.M. Whiting for transport to Marcus Island. On August 31, Japanese Rear Admiral M. Matsubara surrendered the island to Rear Admiral Whiting onboard the ship.
After World War II, the USS Bagley was assigned to extended duty with the Fifth Fleet. She marked minefields, aided minesweeping efforts, and acted as a courier between Sasebo, Nagasaki, and Wakayama.
USS Bagley was decommissioned on June 13, 1946. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on February 25, 1947 and sold for scrap on September 8, 1947. The ship received 12 battle stars for her service in World War II.
Like other ships of her time, the USS Bagley was constructed out of many asbestos-containing components. Asbestos was prized for its resistance to heat, water, fire, and corrosion, so it could be used in virtually all parts of the destroyer, including wall insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, plumbing, and more. Anyone who served onboard the USS Bagley or participated in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, or mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that targets the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.
USS Bagley 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 Bagley, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.
Other Bagley class destroyers include:
USS Blue (DD-387)
USS Helm (DD-388)
USS Henley (DD-391)
USS Jarvis (DD-393)
USS Mugford (DD-389)
USS Patterson (DD-392)
USS Ralph Talbot (DD-390)