The USS Bremerton (CA-130), named after the city of Bremerton in the state of Washington, was built at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey, on February 1, 1943. The 13,600-ton Baltimore class heavy cruiser was launched on July 2, 1944, and officially commissioned on April 29, 1945, under the command of Captain John Boyd Mallard.
The Bremerton featured a full butcher shop, shoe shop, two barber shops, a photo lab, a tailor shop, a galley, a laundry plant, a library and a fresh water distillery. The ship had fuel tanks big enough to carry her non-stop from the United States to Japan and displaced upwards of 17,500 tons.
Action in World War II
Approximately 1,000 men, representing the then 48 U.S. states plus territories including Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam, worked and lived on the Bremerton. The ship left for her shakedown cruise on May 29, 1945, to the waters off of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Towards the end of her shakedown cruise, the Bremerton served as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet during Admiral Jonas Ingram’s South American tour of inspection. The vessel continued to operate in the Atlantic for most of 1945 before being sent to the Pacific and heading back to the United States to engage in “experimental work” at Casco Bay, Maine.
The ship was then deployed to the Far East towards the end of 1945 and stayed there until November of 1946. After serving as a part of training operations in the eastern Pacific region, the USS Bremerton was decommissioned on April 9, 1948 and placed in reserve in San Francisco, California.
After the War
During the Korean War, Bremerton was brought back into service and officially recommissioned on November 23, 1951. She made two successful combat cruises in the active war zone in 1952 and 1953. Following the Korean armistice, the ship served as part of Seventh Fleet deployments before being modified in 1957 to handle surface-to-surface guided missiles. The USS Bremerton was decommissioned on July 29, 1960, and officially stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on October 1, 1973. She was sold to Zidell Explorations Corporation of Portland, Oregon, on July 11, 1974.
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.