U.S.S. Carter Hall LSD 4 (Dock Landing Ship)
Built by the Moore Dry Dock Company in Oakland CA and commissioned in the spring of 1943, U.S.S. Carter Hall was an Ashland class landing ship, dock, built to transport landing craft in support of the many sea-based island assaults during the Second World War. Decommissioned in 1947, Carter Hall was returned to service in 1951 and operated in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans until 1969. Carter Hall participated in World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.
Dock landing ships performed several roles in the Pacific theatre of World War II, including the launching of laden landing craft during an invasion, ferrying landing craft, other small vessels, aircraft, and providing maintenance services to small craft. Carter Hall performed all these roles during operations in the Pacific, being present at the invasions of New Britain, Aitape, and Guam, as well as supporting operations at other remote outposts. Carter Hall supported the invasion of the Philippines, performing both launchings and maintenance of small craft.
Because of the versatility offered by the well deck, dock landing ships were frequently used to carry bulk cargo as well as to serve as dry docks for various small craft. Carter Hall frequently provided such services in the latter days of the Pacific war and in the reoccupation of Korea in late 1945. During the demobilization period, Carter Hall was placed in reserve and decommissioned in San Diego.
Returning to duty in 1951, Carter Hall transferred to Atlantic duty, and for the ensuing four years served in waters from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean, participating in training and fleet exercise operations. In 1955 the ship returned to the Pacific, conducting Western Pacific tours and Arctic resupply cruises for the remainder of the decade.
During the 1960s Carter Hall operated off the coast of Vietnam, providing docking and maintenance for small vessels, transporting aircraft, and supporting troop movements. Carter Hall was awarded 6 Battle Stars for World War Two service, and five Campaign Ribbons for services off Vietnam. She was decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1969.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Carter Hall
Carter Hall was built and served its entire career during a time when the use of asbestos on US Navy ships was rampant. Living spaces for the crew, engine rooms, maintenance facilities and cranes and other equipment all contained asbestos, as did insulation for pipes and valves. Carter Hall also provided berthing and dining facilities for the crews of small craft carried or being serviced in its well deck, they too were exposed to asbestos-containing materials.
During the maintenance of vessels aboard, including painting and replacement of insulating materials, asbestos fibers were released. These fibers and dust would be carried throughout the vessel on the clothing of sailors and distributed freely via the ship’s ventilation system. The replacement or patching of lagging, used to wrap and insulate pipes and usually containing asbestos, was a common maintenance requirement.
Troops embarked, cargo handlers, crews of vessels being supported and others supernumeraries were equally exposed to the release of asbestos fibers, as well as crew members working within the ships engine rooms, food preparation facilities, and maintenance areas.