The USS Prairie (AD-15) was a Dixie-class destroyer tender laid down on December 7, 1938, and launched on December 9, the following year. It was commissioned on August 5, 1940, under Capt. J. B. W. Waller’s command with the hull number AD-15 and served in the U.S. Navy for 53 years until it was decommissioned on March 26, 1993. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 698 people on board and had its main missions in Boston, Argentia, the Marshalls, Majuro Atoll, Tarawa, Pearl Harbor, Ulithi and San Diego. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on the same day and sold for scrapping.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, it was impossible to avoid asbestos exposure on military ships. Because of its ability to resist heat and flame, asbestos was used in nearly every part of a ship, from weapons and ammunition storage rooms to mess halls and sleeping quarters. The airborne asbestos concentrations aboard these ships affected not only those who went to sea but also those who built and repaired these ships in our nation’s shipyards.