Named after a New York Times Washington D.C. correspondent, the SS Richard V. Oulahan was laid down on the 26th of February 1944 under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract and launched on April 11th. She will be allocated to the Black Diamond Steamship Company in May but her service will be relatively short, running aground near Okinawa during typhoon Ida on the 17th of September 1945. She will be declared a constructive total loss and finally abandoned in November 1945. Some two years after, in early 1948, the ship is bought by China Merchants and Engineers, inc. for the bargain price of $100 to be scrapped. Her scrappers might not have gotten such a good deal when you consider the large amounts of asbestos used throughout the ship for water and fire insulation. Sailors on the Richard V. Oulahan weren’t exposed to such a high concentration of the mineral given the short time spent on board, but cutting through asbestos releases extremely high amounts of the toxic dust, and safety precautions at the time, such as wearing masks and goggles were fairly rudimentary.
USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) - Facts and Asbestos Exposuremore »