The USS Brooklyn (CL-40) was a light cruiser, a 9700-ton ship. She was laid down at the New York Navy Yard on November 30, 1936, and commissioned on September 30, 1937, under the command of Captain W. D. Brereton Jr. The Brooklyn first joined the fleet in 1938, helping to patrol the Panama Canal Zone. She was assigned to the 8th Cruiser Division, and simply attended to routine duties with the division until April of 1939. At this point, she was ordered back to the United States where she was able to participate in the opening of the World Fair in New York on April 30th, 1939.
Following this assignment, on May 23rd, the Brooklyn proceeded to the scene of the Squalus disaster off the coast of New Hampshire, where she acted as a base ship for the rescue and salvage operations. After completing her work there, she was ordered to rejoin the Pacific Fleet and participate in the Golden Gate International Exposition in February 1940. During most of 1941, the USS Brooklyn primarily engaged in convoy escort and Neutrality Patrol.
Action in World War II
When the United States entered World War II in late 1942, the Brooklyn steamed from Bermuda in order to patrol the Caribbean Sea. During 1942, she was assigned convoy escort duty, and on September 3rd, the Brooklyn rescued 1,173 troops from the Wakefield, which caught fire and was abandoned.
Later that year, on October 24, the Brooklyn left Norfolk, Virgin, heading for North Africa. On the 8th of November, she joined Operation Torch to bombard shore installations during the Fedhala landing. During this operation, the ship was hit by a dud projectile from a coastal gun installment, wounding five of her crew and damaging two of her guns. Early in the next year, from January to July of 1943, the Brooklyn made three escort voyages, and also carried out support duties in the Mediterranean.
After the War
After the end of the war, the Brooklyn underwent overhaul and modification at the New York Navy Yard. She then underwent pre-inactivation overhaul in September 1945 and was placed in the reserve fleet. In January 1951, the USS Brooklyn was sold to Chile, where she served for 40 years under the name O’Higgins, after which she was sold for scrap in 1991.
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.