USS Biloxi CL-80 (1943-1962)
The USS Biloxi was a 10,000 ton United States light cruiser. She was a Cleveland class cruiser in the US navy, and was the first ship to be named after the Mississippi city. The Biloxi had a maximum speed of 33 knots (about 38 mph), and a maximum range of 18,000 nautical miles. She was commissioned as a fast response ship in August of 1943, and was sponsored by Mrs. Katharine G. Braun, the wife of the Mayor of Biloxi. The Biloxi was built in Newport News, Virginia and launched in February of 1943. She was captained by Daniel M. McGurl and was part of the Cruiser Division 13, Pacific Fleet.
Action in World War II
The Biloxi ran a short two-week training mission in the Chesapeake Bay before being pushed into the South Pacific front. The Biloxi was present in every major Pacific battle until the war’s end in 1945. She was awarded nine battle stars for her exemplary service. The sailors of the Biloxi dubbed her “Double Lucky” for the fact that she never lost one man throughout World War II or sustained any significant damage. The ship avoided all torpedo launches and was only slightly damaged on March 27, 1945, when a kamikaze plane crashed onto the deck. Fortunately the explosives did not detonate, and the unexploded bomb was disarmed and displayed on the deck as a souvenir.
During her involvement on the Pacific front, the Biloxi was used to screen fast attack carrier forces. She bombarded shore installations, was used to cover amphibious landings, and even came within 1000 feet of enemy bunkers to cover troops with her 40mm guns. As well as avoiding damage in combat, the Biloxi also survived three typhoons. One of the typhoons was strong enough to capsize three destroyers. Immediately after the end of World War II, the Biloxi was the first vessel used to evacuate and return allied prisoners of war.
After the War
The Biloxi returned to the U.S. and was decommissioned at the end of 1945 in Bremerton, Washington. She was entered into the naval reserve fleet for the next fifteen years, and was finally stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1961 and sold for scrap.
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.