Weighing in at over 13,000 tons, the USS Boston CA-69 was built at the shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts and commissioned in the summer of 1943. After shakedown and training, she set sail for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal, arriving on December 6.
Action in World War II
During the campaign on the Marshall Islands, the Boston largely spent her time escorting aircraft carriers, a duty she would continue to perform for much of the war. However, she did conduct a bombardment of Eniwetok immediately prior to the U.S. invasion.
From 1944 to early 1945, the Boston took part in several more major campaigns, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea and The Battle of Leyte Gulf. She provided support during the invasions of Saipan and Guam, as well as the raids on Jayapura, Western New Guinea, Truk, and Palau-Lap-Ulithi. When a fellow cruiser, the USS Houston, was torpedoed during the raid of Formosa, the Boston helped tow her to safety.
The Boston required an overhaul in the spring of 1945, which she received at Long Beach, California. She returned to the front in time for the last weeks of the war. Here, she resumed her carrier escort duty for the raids on the Japanese main islands, but also shelled Kaimaishi, a city on Honshu, on August 9. After the surrender of the Japanese, the Boston remained in the area as the U.S. occupation continued.
After the War
She returned to the United States in early 1946 to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and was decommissioned later that year, when she was put into the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In 1952, she was reclassified as a guided-missile heavy cruiser and redesignated the USS Boston CAG-1.
Fifteen years later, she was called into active duty again, joining the Seventh Fleet for operations near North Vietnam. In the coming years, she was deployed to combat twice more, though she still sported an outdated battery of guns. She was accidentally attacked by one of the U.S.’s own planes, but sustained only minor damage.
Overall, the Boston earned ten battle stars for her service in World War II and five for her duties in Vietnam. After her service in Vietnam, she was decommissioned in 1970 and struck from the Naval Register three years later, and finally sold for scrap in 1975.
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.