The USS Cotten (DD-669), a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy, was launched on 12 June 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearny, New Jersey; sponsored by Mrs. L. A. Cotten, widow of Captain Cotten; and commissioned on 24 July 1943, with Lieutenant Commander F. T. Sloat in command. The ship joined the 5th Fleet, and on 10 November 1943 sortied for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, screening the escort carriers providing air support, and patrolling against submarines off Tarawa. The USS Cotten (DD-669) received nine battle stars for World War II service and one for Korean War service. Between World War II and the late-1970s, the United States remained one of the leading countries in shipbuilding. During this time, the US Navy constructed ships including aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, battleships, auxiliary crafts, and submarines, while using steel and asbestos as the leading substances. Many Navy veterans now live with incurable diseases due to the widespread use of asbestos in naval structures. Other people have lost loved ones to asbestos illnesses, and the number of casualties is expected to grow, due to the long interval between asbestos exposure and the development of asbestos-induced diseases.