The USS Plunkett (DD-431), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was laid down on 1 March 1939 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, New Jersey, and launched on 7 March 1940, sponsored by Mrs. Charles P. Plunkett, widow of Rear Admiral Plunkett. The USS Plunkett (DD-431) decommissioned on 3 May 1946 and was berthed at Charleston, South Carolina as a unit of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained there until reactivated and transferred, under the loan provisions of the Military Assistance Program, to the Nationalist Chinese government, 16 February 1959. The US Navy relied on asbestos for its resistance to heat and fire, ease of use, and affordability. The USS Plunkett (DD-431) used asbestos in a variety of equipment, rooms, machinery, and more. Asbestos was found in the walls, bulkheads, engine rooms, and covering pipes, gaskets, and furnaces. Power lines were also wrapped in the asbestos-containing mix because of its flame-retardant qualities. Navy personnel were not required to and did not wear protective gear while working. None of them were aware of the damage that could occur when inhaling asbestos fibers.