USS Alamo LSD-33 (1956-1990)

The USS Alamo (LSD-33) was an 8,900-ton Langston-class dock landing ship built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and commissioned August 24, 1956. Following commission and outfitting, the Alamo sailed to her homeport, San Diego, California. She held training exercises until she got underway for the Marshall Islands on May 29, 1957. After loading equipment at Pearl Harbor she continued west, arriving at Eniwetok on June 14. Back at San Diego in July, she returned to Hawaii a month later to participate in Operation Tradewinds, a training exercise, and then returned to homeport. From September to December, she was deployed to WestPac. In March 1958, she got underway for operations in Hawaii, which lasted until April 14. The Alamo underwent overhaul at Mare Island through July of the same year. In October, back in the Far East, she trained with the Nationalist Chinese Navy and transported men and equipment between Japan and Okinawa. The ship took part in exercises off California and in the Far East in 1959. She was overhauled at Seattle in 1960.

Service in the Vietnam War

Most of the first half of 1961 was spent in training, followed by WestPac from June to December. Another WestPac took place in 1962–1963. The Alamo assisted in Alaska following the 1964 earthquake. On June 18, 1964, she steamed to WestPac, this time patrolling in Vietnamese waters. She made two unscheduled WestPac tours, first in 1965 and again in 1966. The ship made a scheduled cruise in 1967. The Alamo deployed to Southeast Asia every year from 1969–1979 except for 1973. Most of that time was spent ferrying men and supplies to the Vietnam combat zone and participating in Fleet exercises. The year 1980 began with another WestPac. This time she continued to the Arabian Sea, joining the naval force gathered there in response to the U.S. Embassy takeover. During the next voyage in 1981, she conducted joint exercises with Kenyan forces. The ship underwent overhaul in 1981–1982. During a 1984 WestPac, she operated with ANZUS units and the Japanese Defense Force. Then 1985 was spent conducting exercises in West Coast and Hawaiian waters. Deployed for WestPac in early 1986, she participated in amphibious exercises on the Korean peninsula. The ship returned to San Diego on July 16 and remained there for the rest of the year The Alamo was decommissioned on November 2, 1990. She was then loaned to Brazil and renamed the Rio de Janeiro.

Asbestos in Navy Ships

Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older 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 to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.