The USS Williams (DE-372) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort laid down on June 5, 1944, and launched on August 22, the same year. It was commissioned on November 11, 1944, under Lt. Cmdr. L. F. Loutrel’s command as DE-372 and served in the U.S. Navy for 2 years until it was decommissioned on June 4, 1946. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 215 people on board and had its main missions in Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, New London, Leyte, Manus, Boston, Panama Canal, Espiritu Santo, and Ulithi. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on July 1, 1967, and used as a target ship during training exercises the following year. Practically every oceangoing vessel built before the mid-1970s contained asbestos, which was used to manufacture bulkheads and insulate boilers as well as steam and hot water pipes that run throughout ships' interiors. Asbestos fibers were dislodged during assembly, maintaining, repairing and dismantling operations, and through ships' natural vibrations while at sea, leaving mariners constantly exposed.