USS Willmarth (DE-638) Areas With Asbestos Exposure

The USS Willmarth (DE-638) was a Buckley-class destroyer escort laid down on June 25, 1943, and launched on November 21, the same year. It was commissioned on March 13, 1944, under Lt. Comdr. James G. Thorburn’s command with the hull number DE-638 and served in the U.S. Navy for 2 years until it was decommissioned on April 26, 1946. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 213 men on board and had its main missions in Hawaii, the Marshalls, Eniwetok, Tulagi, New Guinea, Leyte, Palaus, and Samar. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on December 1, 1966. Two years later, in 1968 the ship was sold for scrapping. Asbestos in the U.S. Navy has been well documented. Before its risks were known, it was viewed as a highly durable, flame retardant insulator. Common types of asbestos-containing materials include thermal insulation on pipes, boilers, ducts, and as a cloth type material in gaskets; heat resistant textiles - cloth, padding, pipe wrap, fire blankets, fireproof clothing, oven gloves, electrical switchboards, insulators, and fittings. Those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Merchant Marine and others onboard ships, experienced similar exposure to asbestos.

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Shipmates on USS Willmarth (DE-638)

George J. Mentgen

John Patrick Farrell

Clarence Burton Sr.

Billy Leisure Vandruff