Weighing in at 9,050 tons, the USS Augusta, a Northampton division light cruiser, was formerly known as the CA-31 but later changed to the CL-31. the USS Augusta served as the Scouting Force’s flagship in the Caribbean and Atlantic areas for much of her first two years. She was constructed in Newport News, Virginia and commissioned in January of 1931. She was reclassified as a heavy cruiser at that time.
Over the course of the next seven years, the Augusta traveled extensively, landing in ports in the Soviet Union, Thailand, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Indo-China, and China. In response to the war between Japan and China, Augusta was charged with protecting American interests and observing the war throughout the waters of China, which took place in July of 1937.
One month later, while off the coast of Shanghai, a Chinese aircraft accidently barraged the Augusta by bomb. However, she did not suffer damages or casualty. Shortly after, in November 1940, the Augusta departed and returned home for modernization and repair. She then passed through the Panama Canal, becoming the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet in May 1941.
In August the U.S. president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, sailed to Newfoundland on Augusta with the purpose of participating in the conference which eventually led to the Atlantic Charter. For the rest of 1941, into 1942, the Augusta continued operating as the fleet flagship everywhere from the Western Atlantic into the West Indies.
Action in World War II
During the U.S. invasion of Morocco, in November 1942, the Augusta again served as flagship and used her eight-inch guns to subdue French warships and batteries on shore. The following year, she ushered a convoy to Scotland and joined forces with Britain’s Home Fleet for the final stages of 1943. Augusta was also an active contributor in the invasion of Normandy, bombarding enemy targets ashore during the U.S. invasion of Southern France. During its service at the battle of Normandy, the Augusta defended the amphibious forces and protected them from retaliation.
After the War
After the European war came to a close, in July of 1945, Augusta escorted President Harry S. Truman across the Atlantic for the Potsdam Conference. She was decommissioned at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia one year later and sold for scrapping in November 1959.
Asbestos in Navy ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, naval cruisers also pose 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 in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.