The USS Brownson (DD-868) was a Gearing-class destroyer laid down on February 13, 1945, and launched on July 7, the same year. It was commissioned on November 17, 1945, under Comdr. William R. Cox's command with the hull number DD-868 and served in the US Navy for 31 years before it was decommissioned on September 30, 1976. During its activities, the ship had its main missions in New York, Bath, Newport, Bermuda, and the Suez Canal. It was struck from the Navy List on September 30, 1976, and sold for scrapping on June 10, 1977.
Anyone who has worked on a US Navy ship prior to 1980 can assume they have been exposed to certain levels of asbestos at some point. As they enter the lungs through inhalation, asbestos fibers remain inside the body, continuously scarring the tissue, and often takes 20 to 30 years before signs of disease such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer start to show up. Navy veterans exposed to asbestos during military service who develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions may receive compensation from one or more of the several trust funds created for victims of asbestos exposure, and other types of assistance from the VA.