The USS La Vallette (DD-448), a World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, was laid down 27 November 1941 by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearny, New Jersey; launched 21 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Lucy La Vallette Littel, great-granddaughter of Rear Admiral LaVallette; and commissioned 12 August 1942, with Lieutenant Commander H. H. Henderson in command. After training and escort duty in the Caribbean and Atlantic, the ship departed New York on 16 December 1942 for the Panama Canal and Pacific duty. Its first contact with the enemy came on 29 January 1943, when it sighted a formation of 11 to 13 Japanese bombers, in three close formation sections 12 miles west of its position. Asbestos was coveted for its ability to strengthen and fireproof most everything, making it invaluable to all branches of service; it was especially prevalent in the Navy thanks to the material’s extensive use in shipbuilding and ship repairs. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is a great sound insulator, fire-resistant, and is relatively affordable to produce. Also, inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to serious health effects such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.