USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) – Facts and Asbestos Exposure

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The USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was a Leahy-class guided-missile cruiser of the United States Navy, built in 1961 at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. The ship was named after the American naval officer whose career spanned over 51 years and three wars, Admiral Harry Ervin Yarnell.

Originally classified as a "destroyer leader" or frigate, the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was laid down on 31 May 1960 and launched on 9 December 1961, sponsored by Mrs. Philip Yarnell, widow of Admiral Yarnell.

Technical Features of the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17)

Class and type: Leahy-class guided-missile cruiser
Launch date: 9 December, 1961
Commissioning date: 2 February, 1963
Decommissioning date: 20 October, 1993
Displacement: 7,800 Tons full load
Length: 547
Draft: 26 ft
Beam: 55 ft
Speed: 30+ knots
Complement: 395
Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 1200 psi boilers, 85,000 hp, 2 shafts
Armament: 2 Mk 10 Missile Systems; Terrier (80 missiles total), 1 ASROC, 2 dual 3 in (76 mm)/50 guns, 6 12.75 in. torpedo tubes

History of the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17)

The USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was the second of the "double-end" Leahy-class guided-missile frigates to join the fleet. Equipped with RIM-2 Terrier surface-to-air missile launching rails both fore and aft and ASROC anti-submarine missiles, as well as more conventional torpedo tubes and guns, the new ship was fitted out at Boston and began sea trials. As she was out on trials, on 10 April 1963, the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was diverted to search for the USS Thresher, the nuclear-powered submarine later found on the bottom of the sea, some 8,000 feet deep down.

The USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) operated in the Virginia Capes area and the Caribbean until departing Norfolk on 8 September 1964 for her first Atlantic crossing. NATO ASW exercises en route took the ship far north, and she crossed the Arctic circle on the 21st. The guided-missile frigate visited Amsterdam en route to the Mediterranean, where she remained until returning to Norfolk in February 1965. On her next Mediterranean deployment, she transited the Dardanelles on 3 January 1966 and entered the Black Sea to operate close to the Soviet Union before returning to Norfolk in March. After NATO exercises in the North Atlantic, the ship received the battle efficiency "E" for the preceding year. Operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean brought the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) and her crew to a high degree of readiness before she sailed for her 3d Med deployment early in 1967. She cruised the Mediterranean ready to help snuff out any problems that might have arisen in that troubled area until returning to Norfolk in May.

Under the command of Captain Howard F. Burdick Jr., the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) sailed on 19 November 1980 with the USS Independence and her battle group to the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean, during which the ship made port calls at Mombasa, Kenya and Perth and Fremantle, Australia from 3-7 February 1981. The ship returned home to Norfolk Naval Base, VA, on 10 June 1981. The entire Leahy-class was given an AAW upgrade during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

On 20 October 1993, the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was decommissioned and stricken. She was sold on 14 April 1995 for scrapping at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, but the scrap contract was terminated on 1 December 1996, and the hulk returned to Philadelphia for storage. Scrapping was completed in April 2002.

Asbestos Risks on the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17)

Many Navy veterans developed service-related conditions as a result of asbestos exposure during their military service. Like many ships of her day, the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) was built with asbestos-containing materials. Specifically, asbestos was used for its fireproofing properties as well as its resistance to corrosion, heat, and water. Because of this, it could be found in virtually all areas of the ship including engine rooms, boiler rooms, weapon and ammunition storage rooms, mess halls, sleeping quarters and navigation rooms.

Crewmembers of the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) were likely to breathe in large amounts of asbestos fibers when they were sleeping, eating, and serving their country in battle. Those that worked in shipyards were also at serious risk for asbestos exposure, as they handled the materials that were built, repaired, or removed from naval vessels as part of their job. Unfortunately, it is now known that asbestos exposure can cause serious illnesses that often do not appear until many years after the exposure. Asbestos exposure continued throughout the 1990s, as shipyards sold scrap pieces of asbestos-containing ships that were no longer in use.

Anyone who worked on or around the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience symptoms of shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, and chest tightness or pain.

Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos on the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17)

Navy personnel who served on the USS Harry E. Yarnell (DLG/CG-17) or participated in her repair were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, putting them at risk of developing life-threatening illnesses like lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer.

We can assist you in sorting out your interactions with asbestos and also help you reach out to former shipmates. To learn more, call us at 760.621.6147.

Questions about asbestos exposure? We can help!

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