The Guam was built in Camden, New Jersey. The 27,500 ton cruiser was commissioned in September, 1944. The following January it headed for the Pacific.
Action in World War II
The Guam offered anti-aircraft protection and supported the carrier operations for the Okinawa campaign. During July and August of 1944, it teamed up with its sister, the Alaska, in an anti-shipping raid in the home waters of the Japanese.
During its mission in March, the Guam was joined by the Yorktown, Intrepid, Independence, and a number of other ships, along with 15 destroyers. It found itself in battle when five kamikaze attacks were made on the carriers. The Enterprise and Intrepid were both damaged, although they remained in service. The Guam’s group caused the destruction of four enemy aircraft.
Following replenishment, the Guam departed for Okinawa. There it bombarded the airfield in Minami Daito and supported carrier operations. The Guam then went to Ulithi for replenishment and repairs. It once again returned to the waters east of Okinawa where it supported the carriers launching fighter sweeps. Early in June, along with several others ships, it participated in a 90 minute bombardment of Okino Daito. A few days later it headed out for San Pedro Bay.
The Guam was then given a new assignment. It became the flagship of Cruiser Task Force 95. This group included the Alaska, four light cruisers, and nine destroyers. They traveled to East China and the Yellow Seas in July to conduct a shipping raid. A few days later, the Guam became the flagship of the North China Force conducted by Rear Admiral Low. It then left for San Francisco, then for Bayonne, New Jersey.
After the War
In February 1947, the Guam was decommissioned at Bayonne, New Jersey. The Guam was removed from the Navy list on June 1, 1960. In 1961, the Guam was sold to the Boston Metal Co., Baltimore, Maryland and sold for scrapping. It received two battle stars for its service in World War II.
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.