The USS Alabama was a South Dakota class battleship that was commissioned in 1942. The South Dakota class of battleships was composed of four ships: the South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts and the Alabama. This class was much more compactly built and much faster than the previous class that was built, the North Carolina class. Construction of the USS Alabama began shortly before the Second World War and was to be used in the North Atlantic to intercept German ships that could possibly interfere with shipping lanes to Europe and England.
Action in World War II
The battleship USS Alabama was transferred to the Pacific in August in 1943 where the ship would play a major role in naval combat there during the duration of the war. The ship was pivotal in the capture of the Gilbert Islands during this time. In 1944 the battleship was instrumental for the capture of many islands in the pacific theater and helped launch many raids on Japanese strongholds throughout the Pacific Islands.
In the year 1945 the ship returned stateside and underwent a major overhaul and returned to the Pacific to help in the attack of Japanese home islands and also aided and participated in the occupation of Japan. At the end of the war the USS Alabama was used to transport troops home from Japan to the United States.
After the War
The battleship was decommissioned in 1947 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, where it sat in reserve status until removed from the naval registry in 1962. This ship served her country proudly and honorably as well did the servicemen who were on duty and stationed on the ship. The ship was then moved to Alabama in 1964.
The citizens of Alabama created an organization to help preserve the battleship and to create a national monument to honor those who served their country while aboard the USS Alabama. In the very first year that the ship was turned over to the state of Alabama over $100,000 dollars was raised by school children alone. The ship was declared a national historic landmark in 1986. A museum has since been created which allows visitors to tour the ship and relive some of its history.
During hurricanes, the battleship has been known to serve as a shelter for people trying to weather the storm. In 2005 during hurricane Katrina the ship suffered damage to the note of an eight degree list to her port. During this time there were several employees of the museum onboard seeking shelter from the hurricane. The museum opened back up in 2006 and still has a three degree list of damage needed for repair.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet throughout conflicts during the last century, battleships also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers who served on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common on these ships because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.