The USS John R. Pierce (DD-753) was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer laid down on March 24, 1944, and launched on September 1, the same year. It was commissioned on December 30, 1944, under Comdr. C. R. Simmers’ command with the hull number DD-753 and served in the US Navy for 29 years until it was decommissioned in 1973. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 336 people on board and had its main missions in Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, Eniwetok, China, and Korea. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List and sold for scrapping in 1974.
Asbestos manufacturers had found ways to use the inexpensive mineral in a wide variety of insulation products in the shipbuilding industry and many other shipboard products. Navy personnel with the most significant risk for asbestos exposure were those who labored without ventilation in the ships’ confined areas, such as boiler and engine rooms where asbestos insulation was heavily used. These occupations included enginemen, damage controlmen, boilermen, fire control technicians, pipefitters, shipfitters, electrician’s mates, and machinist mates.