The USS Fresno CL-121 was the last of the three 6,000-ton Juneau-class light cruisers commissioned by the US Navy. Her hull number was 121, and CL is
the naval classification abbreviation for a light cruiser. She was built at Kearny, New Jersey, where she was first launched in March 1946. The USS Fresno was placed in commission in late November 1946.
Her first operational cruise began a month and a half later, on January 7, 1947. Between then and the following May, after preliminary training in the Caribbean, the USS Fresno cruised to South America. Her ports of call included Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Montevideo, Uruguay, where she docked during the inauguration of Tomas Berreta, who would be president of Uruguay until his death on August 2, 1947.
Service in the Atlantic
The USS Fresno’s next voyage began on August 1, 1947. Sailing from Norfolk, Virginia, she headed for Europe. After calling at several ports in northern Europe and the Mediterranean, she returned to Norfolk on December 1. The Fresno’s next overseas deployment, from March to June of 1948, sent her to Plymouth, England. From that base, she visited Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Bergen.
After her second European tour, the USS Fresno spent the remainder of her naval career in the western Atlantic. Based in Norfolk, she sailed as far north as Prince Edward Island and as far east as Bermuda. In March 1949, the Fresno was reclassified as an anti-aircraft light cruiser, gaining a slightly longer name. Her full name, reflecting her new classification, became the USS Fresno CLAA-121.
However, the USS Fresno would never be used as an anti-aircraft ship, and her career after her reclassification was exceedingly brief. Just two months later, in May 1949, she was decommissioned at New York Naval Shipyard. The Fresno did not sail again. She was berthed at Bayonne, New Jersey until June 1966. After only two and a half years of active duty and seventeen years in mothballs, she was sold for scrap.
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.