The USS Earle (DD-635/DMS-42), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was launched on 10 December 1941 by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. John F. Hines, Jr., daughter of Rear Admiral Earle; and commissioned on 1 September 1942, with Lieutenant Commander H. W. Howe in command. The ship escorted three convoys bringing vital troops and supplies to Casablanca between 12 December 1942 and 28 April 1943. During her maiden trip, it carried out two-night strikes against surfaced submarines. Sailing from Norfolk on June 8, it arrived at Oran on June 22 to prepare for the invasion of Sicily, and on July 10, it screened the transport area off Scoglitti. It received two battle stars for World War II service. Because of properties like thermal stability, electrical resistance, water tightness, and nonflammability, asbestos was of particular interest to the United States Navy. When left alone in its compound, asbestos poses no danger to the health of people who come into contact with it. However, owing to the constant cycle of degradation and repair that occurs aboard a ship, it was impossible for asbestos to remain in unaltered condition.