USS Lenoir (AKA-74) - Facts and Asbestos Exposure

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The USS Lenoir (AKA-74) was a Tolland-class attack cargo ship. The name of the vessel was inspired by both the Lenoir County in North Carolina and the City of Lenoir, also in North Carolina.

Just like the other ships under the AKA designation, the USS Lenoir was constructed for the purpose of transporting military cargo as well as landing craft. Although the ship was in service for only 17 months, its efforts during operations related to World War II led to it being awarded a battle star for its involvement.

Technical Features of the USS Lenoir (AKA-74)

Class and type: Tolland-class attack cargo ship
Launch date: 6 November 1944
Commissioning date: 14 December 1944
Decommissioning date: 13 June 1946
Displacement: 14,133 t full load
Length: 459.2 ft
Draft: 26.4 ft
Beam: 63 ft
Speed: 16.5 kts
Complement: 23 officers and 224 enlisted
Propulsion: single propeller, 6,000 shp
Capacity: 35 t
Fuel capacity: NSFO 10,425 bbls
Armament: one single 5-inch/38 caliber gun, four 40mm anti-aircraft guns, sixteen 20mm anti-aircraft guns

History of the USS Lenoir (AKA-74)

The USS Lenoir was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mrs. John M. Kerr sponsored the ship and when it was placed in commission in December 1944, Lieutenant Commander Marcus L. Whitford was assigned as commanding officer.

The ship left Norfolk in January 1945, and by April it was sailing from Ulithi to Okinawa where it docked on the 17th. For the following 72 hours, the vessel unloaded cargo without stopping even if it was under continuous air attacks, managing to leave the conflict zone with no damage at all.

On 25 August the Lenoir went back to the United States in order to embark more servicemen of the 6th Division that was at Pearl Harbor and transport them to Japan where they disembarked on 22 October.

The Hammerberg was next deployed to Tsingtao in China and Jinsen in Korea as part of Operation Magic Carpet, which was a mission focused on the repatriation of American servicemen from Asian, European and Pacific locations.

The Hammerberg steamed to Norfolk in March 1946 where it ended up being placed out of commission in June. The ship was afterward sold and resold as many as five times, with the last one being in 1971 when it was scrapped.

Asbestos Risks on the USS Lenoir (AKA-74)

All U.S. Navy ships built between the 1930s and the 1970s contained large amounts of asbestos, which is a toxic mineral that once it is inhaled or ingested never leaves the body and it provokes a decades-long irritation of the internal organs that can develop into a cancerous tumor.

Unaware of the dangerous effects of asbestos exposure manufacturers only saw it for its impressive physical and chemical properties, such as its resistance to high temperatures and its low electrical conductivity. Qualities such as these made the materials containing the mineral safer to work with, especially in the case of vessels that operated at sea and virtually could have been under fire at any moment, either intentionally, as a result of an enemy attack, or unintentionally, as incidents on board could have occurred at any time.

Everyone serving on Navy ships was at risk of being exposed to the deadly asbestos, with some areas constituting a higher risk than others. For example, the spaces below the deck were significantly more dangerous since they were more narrow and with every disturbance of asbestos-containing materials there was toxic dust released into the air and then breathed in by the workers who had to perform regular tasks in these spaces.

Have You Been Exposed to Asbestos on the USS Lenoir (AKA-74)?

If you served in the U.S. Navy, we can assist you in sorting out your interactions with asbestos. We can 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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