The USS Columbia was a Cleveland class light cruiser that was built in Camden. She was commissioned in July of 1942 and had shakedown training in the Western Atlantic.
Action in World War II
She was sent to the Pacific in 1942 just in time to partake in the final operational phase of the Guadalcanal Campaign. She also participated in the Battle of Rennell Island. She then conducted frequent patrol and bombardment missions in the Solomon Islands over the next few months. These patrols were meant to help the Allies in sizing up what kind of enemy they would be facing. However, she also helped to seized bases in Guadacanal. She even started shelling targets in November of 1943 on the Bougainville and took part in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay. She supported landings on Green Islands and Emirau Island in early 1944.
She was overhauled in the States before going back to sea to cover amphibious assaults on Peleliu and Leyte in late 1944. On the night of October 24th she participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last of the major surface and submarine battles in the Pacific War. She had dealings in the Philippines until December and January of 1945.
She survived a near miss by a Japanese suicide bomber, but was struck by two other planes that caused serious damage on the ship and killed a large number of the crew members. The cruiser had to be repaired but returned in time for final operations against the Japanese that month. She took part in the Borneo landings and even helped attack ships that were supplying Japan in the East China Sea.
After the War
After Japan surrendered she assisted with occupation efforts of Japan and would transport veterans of the Pacific war back to the U.S. She served as a training ship for the first year after the war ended. She was decommissioned in November of 1946 and served as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until she was sold for scrapping in 1959.
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.