U.S.S. McCloy FF 1038 (Guided Missile Frigate)
Named for one of only nineteen men to have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice, U.S.S. McCloy was a Bronstein class frigate commissioned into the US Navy at Charleston, South Carolina in the fall of 1963. Built in Louisiana by Avondale Shipyards, McCloy would serve nearly twenty years before being transferred to the Mexican Navy.
McCloy was designed to serve as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform, and spent most of its career performing that role with the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets. Initially operating as a training vessel, McCloy, throughout its career, received upgraded sonar and weaponry, necessitating frequent periods in shipyards and repair berths.>
Throughout the 1960s, McCloy operated in North Atlantic waters, with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and in the Caribbean, deployed with various fleet units and in NATO exercises. During joint exercises with NATO, McCloy exchanged crew members with Dutch and British participants, receiving allied navy crew members onboard for training, and sending members of its crew to the corresponding ships.
In 1968 McCloy participated in UNITAS IX, a joint exercise with several South American navies, during which the ship cruised around the continent of South America, entering the Pacific by rounding Cape Horn, and returning to the Atlantic via the Panama Canal.
By the mid 1970s, McCloy’s operations had taken the ship, at various times, as far north as the Arctic Circle, and to the southernmost point of South America.
In ASW operations throughout its career, McCloy trained its crew working with US and NATO submarines. McCloy also detected and tracked Soviet submarines, a fact verified in 1983 when the ship snagged a submerged Soviet submarine with its towed sonar array. The Soviet vessel, the nuclear powered K-324, was severely damaged and forced to surface. Unable to reach port under its own power due to damage to its propeller, K-324 was towed to Cuba by a Soviet salvage vessel, dragging part of McCloy’s sonar array with it.
Towards the end of its career, McCloy was conducting training with the diesel-electric submarine USS Bonefish when a fire on that vessel caused its crew to abandon ship. McCloy, with other US ships, assisted with rescue operations during that incident, which resulted in the loss of three of Bonefish’s crew.
In 1990 the aging vessel was at last stricken from the naval register and held in reserve until being transferred to Mexico. Though not in commission, the ship, renamed Nicolas Bravo, remains in the custody of the Mexican navy, used primarily for public relations activities.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. McCloy
The extensive use of asbestos containing materials in ship construction was common when U.S.S. McCloy was built, and most such materials remained onboard the ship throughout its career. Asbestos was used heavily in components found in engineering spaces, and throughout the vessel as pipe insulation. Although contained by painting, damage to the paint or to the piping itself would have caused the release of asbestos fibers into the atmosphere, where it would be distributed throughout the ship by ventilation systems and by contact with clothing.
Any repairs on valves or piping would have necessitated removing the insulation, again releasing asbestos fibers. Other materials containing asbestos could be found throughout the ship, in fire dampers and blankets, deck and overhead tiles, paint, glues and solvents and in gaskets and seals. Potential exposure to asbestos fibers was possible in virtually any space throughout the ship.