USS Cleveland CL-55 (1942-1960)
The USS Cleveland was constructed in Camden, New Jersey. The ship was part of a fleet of twenty-seven 10,000-ton light cruisers built during and after World War II. Commissioned in June 1942, the ship played a vital role in the North African invasion that November. After the premiere mission, the Cleveland was used in the South Pacific war zone. Cleveland participated in the January 1943 Battle of Rennell Island.
Action in World War II
As the Guadalcanal campaign ended, the Cleveland was a key player in operations “up the Slot” in the Central Solomons. On 6 March 1943, the ship helped sink the Japanese destroyers Minegumo and Murasame. The craft’s guns were used to bombard the enemy during the invasion of New Georgia in June and July. The Cleveland played a similar role during the attacks on the Treasury Islands in late October and at Bougainville in November. The Cleveland helped troops seize victory in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay. During 1944, she continued to be a leading ship helping to seize islands in the Bismarcks.
The historic Cleveland provided anti-aircraft gunfire and bombardment support during the mission that conquered Saipan, Guam and Tinian, in the Mariana Islands, and in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Improvements were made to the cruiser in the latter half of 1944. Improved and repaired, the Cleveland returned to the Western Pacific in February 1945, taking part in the capture of Corregidor, in Manila Bay, and other legendary operations in the Philippines. During June and July of that year the ship supported landings on Borneo. The Cleveland was last used in combat during the anti-shipping sweeps in the East China Sea.
After the War
After Japan’s surrender, the Cleveland was used to help recover prisoners of war. The ship continued to be used for military training in the United States during 1945 and 1946 until she was finally decommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Cleveland stood in the Philadelphia Navy Yard until she was scrapped in February of 1960.
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.