The USS Halford (DD-480), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was laid down on 3 June 1941 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington; launched on 29 October 1942, sponsored by Miss Eunice Halford; and commissioned on 10 April 1943, with Lieutenant Commander G. N. Johansen in command. The ship was one of three Fletcher-class destroyers to get afloat aircraft catapult, the others being Pringle and Stevens. The catapult and an aircraft crane were installed immediately aft of the number 2 smokestack, in lieu of the after torpedo tube mount, the number 3 5 inch mount, and the second deck of the after deckhouse, which was usually equipped with a twin 40 mm anti-aircraft gun on most ships of the class. Asbestos fibers, when disturbed, can be ingested or breathed into the lungs. The fibers then settle in the lung or abdominal tissue where they can eventually cause asbestosis, lung cancer, or deadly mesothelioma cancer, for which there is no cure. Because symptoms of the asbestos-related disease often do not appear until 10 to 50 years after exposure, many veterans are concerned about the potential for developing a serious condition like mesothelioma later in life.