The Huntington was the second US Naval ship to honor the city of Huntington, West Virginia. This 10,000 ton Fargo-class light cruiser was constructed by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation out of Camden, New Jersey during the early 1940s and was not launched until April of 1943. Its sponsor was Mrs. M.J. Jarrett, Jr. and Captain Donald Rex Tallman was in command when the USS Huntington was commissioned three years later in 1946.
Service in the Caribbean and Mediterranean
Initially pressed into service in Caribbean waters, with shakedown training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Huntington set sail in the summer of 1946 for three tours of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Although the USS Huntington did not see service during World War II, its efforts in the post-war peace keeping phase were invaluable. The Huntington sailed around the ports of Alexandria, Malta, Naples and Villefranche.
After departing the Mediterranean area in early 1947 for exercises off Guantanamo Bay, Norfolk, Virginia and Newport Rhode Island, the Huntington began a second tour of duty in Mediterranean waters in May of 1947. Four months later, it returned to Philadelphia to pick up Navel Reserve personnel for exercises near Bermuda and Newfoundland.
An extensive overhaul was ordered for the Huntington in the spring of 1948 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard under the command of Captain Arleigh Burke. Following refresher training exercises in Caribbean waters, the Huntington returned to Newport then underwent a third and final tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea beginning in June of 1948.
After transiting the Suez Canal in September of that year, the Huntington began a goodwill tour of both South American and African ports before ultimately arriving in Argentina, where President Juan Peron officially welcomed its arrival. Uruguyan President Luis Berres did the same when the Huntington arrived in Uruguay in early November.
Prior to being decommissioned on June 15, 1949, the Huntington traveled from Philadelphia to the Caribbean and then back to Newport. After being in reserve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for 12 years, it was struck from the Navy list in September of 1961. The following spring, Boston Metals of Baltimore Metal purchased the ship for scrapping.
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.