The USS Thomas (DE-102) was a Cannon-class destroyer escort laid down on January 16, 1943, and launched on July 31, the same year. It was commissioned on November 21, 1943, with the hull number DE-102 and served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years until it was decommissioned in March 1946. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 216 men on board and managed to sink three German submarines. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy Register on December 22, 1948, and transferred to China where it was renamed Tai Ho (DE-23). For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Thomas received 4 battle stars and many awards. Asbestos was considered a "magic mineral" because it was highly resistant to heat and corrosion, durable and affordable. Alternative materials with comparable properties were not readily available and so asbestos was widely used in high heat operations nationwide. Up until the late 1970s, the Navy used amosite and chrysotile asbestos insulation extensively on pipes and machinery onboard naval ships.