How was the Beale Exposed to Agent Orange?
The Beale was presumptively exposed to Agent Orange in four ways while operating on inshore Vietnam waters.
possible contamination from direct and wind-blown Agent Orange spray
contaminated seawater pumped through the firemains for cooling of Beale's guns and spent 3 and 5 inch ammunition
contaminated seawater pumped through the firemains to wash down the ship
desalinated seawater used for boilers, drinking cooking, bathing and laundry
At least one crew member "set foot" aground in Vietnam. This was LT George Easley, Operations Officer, who went ashore for briefings when Beale was in Danang Harbor on 26 JULY 1966. It is important to note that stepping on Vietnam soil meets the qualifications set forth by the VA. Accordingly, LT Easley is the only member of Beale' Ship's Company accepted by the VA as having been exposed to Agent Orange.
The Beale Deck Log for 26 JULY 1966 states the Beale entering Danang Harbor. Although not stated in the Deck Log, the reason for being there was to disembark LT Easley. It does not include any additonal information regarding how he went ashore or if he was accompanied. Click on
Deck Logs to see link to a copy of the 26 JULY 66 Deck Log.
Baie Chon May -
On 26, 27, 28 and 29 AUGUST 1966, USS BEALE DD-471 provided Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS) to US Marines as part of Operation Prairie. BEALE patrolled the mouth of Baie Chon May on all dates. On 28 AUGUST 1966 BEALE entered Baie Chon May and came to a full stop from 1226 to 1651 to provide up-close NGFS. Please note Baie Chon May is about 20-25 miles north of Danang.
Click on Deck Logs to see links to copies of the 26 through 29 AUGUST Deck Logs. Please see the following annotated maps of Vietnam identifying of Bay Chon May. You can click on the maps then move your mouse to see magnified areas of the photos.
Spraying of Agent Orange –
In preparation for Operation Prairie, records show Agent Orange was sprayed in the immediate area of Baie Chon May during July and August 1966. The annotated maps above illustrate spraying locations for July and August 1966. It is presumed spraying of Agent Orange not only affected live foliage and other vegetation, but because of the area's “rainy season”, run-off reached the streams in this mountainous area that fed into Baie Chon May. You can click on Spraying for a link to an interactive map that provides additional detailed information.
Direct Exposure –
It is presumed BEALE and her crew were exposed to contaminants by direct contact with Agent Orange as a result of direct spray and wind blown spray.
Indirect Exposure from Contaminated Sea Water -
It is presumed BEALE and her crew were exposed indirectly to contaminants by coming into contact with sea water in and adjacent to Baie Chon May. Please see Naval Archives Photo NH103718, below, showing BEALE crew cooling her forward 5”/38 forward gun barrel. Over-spray also fell on expended shell casings. This common practice utilized contaminated sea water from BEALE fire mains. All coming into contact with Baie Chon May sea water would have been contaminated. Also, the contaminants would have spread by indirect contact throughout the ship in close quarter areas such as passageways, heads, mess decks and berthing compartments.
Indirect Exposure from Desalinated Sea Water –
BEALE, a 1942 Fletcher Class Destroyer, had but limited fresh water availability with priorities assigned to her boilers, drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry. BEALE could not carry sufficient fresh “shore” water. Accordingly, using an evaporation process, BEALE desalinated sea water on a 7 by 24 basis to meet her needs. This process removed salt and most bacteria from the sea water. It was further rendered potable by use of chlorination. However, evaporation and chlorination did not remove the Agent Orange contaminant. Accordingly, BEALE and her entire crew were exposed and contaminated by Agent Orange through the use and consumption of desalinated sea water from Baie Chon May and other waters of Vietnam.
Links to other sites for supporting detail regarding contamination –
You can reach other sites by "googling" "agent orange distillation", "agent orange naval contamination"