U.S.S. Joseph Strauss DDG 16 (Guided Missile Destroyer)
U.S.S. Joseph Strauss was a Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyer, built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden New Jersey and commissioned into service in April 1963. After shakedown exercises in the Caribbean, Joseph Strauss transited the Panama Canal to join the Pacific fleet.
Serving as the flagship for Destroyer Squadron 3 Joseph Strauss sailed to Yokosuka, Japan and was import there when informed of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where the destroyer Maddox reported being attacked by North Vietnamese gunboats. Joseph Strauss participated in the build-up of US naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin and the coast of Viet Nam, providing carrier escort and screening services with several carriers.
From then until the summer of 1966, interspersed with port visits to Hong Kong, Subic Bay, and Yokosuka, Joseph Strauss patrolled waters around the escalating combat zones in Viet Nam. Its normal duties included serving as a plane guard for aircraft carriers operating on Yankee Station, search and rescue operations and gunfire support of operations ashore.
The ship returned to Pearl Harbor in July 1966, operating in around Hawaii until returning to Vietnam in 1967. Joseph Strauss continued to operate Vietnamese waters, interrupted by other duties in the Pacific, until the end of the conflict.
Throughout the seventies and eighties, Joseph Strauss operated with units of the Pacific fleet, providing carrier screening services for various task groups, training and upgrading its abilities. In 1988, during the Iraq-Iran war, U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf. In retaliation, US surface forces, including Joseph Strauss, engaged units of the Iranian Navy in the largest surface action since World War Two. At least one Harpoon fired from the Joseph Strauss struck the Iranian frigate Sahand, contributing to the sinking of that vessel after out of control fires detonated one of its magazines.
Joseph Strauss was decommissioned in 1990 and transferred to the Greek navy. It was sold for scrapping in 2004.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Joseph Strauss
The New York Shipbuilding Company, which was not in New York but in Camden, New Jersey, constructed the Joseph Strauss at a time in which the long-term dangers of asbestos exposure and inhalation were relatively unknown. Extensive use of asbestos both within the shipyard and in the vessels being built was common. In ships under construction, the most common areas of use were in liners and packing for boilers, fireproofing of steel deck plates, insulation wrapping, known as lagging, for pipes, acoustical tiles, floor tiles and electrical insulation. Some or all of these materials were certainly used in the construction of Joseph Strauss.
By the mid-1970s, the Navy and other entities were becoming more concerned about the extent of asbestos exposure and its hazards in shipyards, but felt the problem to be unworthy of immediate abatement aboard ships. Asbestos wrapped pipes ran through berthing areas, dining areas and workstations within virtually every ship in the fleet, including Joseph Strauss. The decision to replace hazardous materials only when they became eligible for maintenance or repair ensured asbestos containing materials remained a part of U.S.S. Joseph Strauss for the duration of its service with the United States Navy.