USS Indiana BB-58 (1942-1963)

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Reining the high seas for two decades, the USS Indiana, a 35,000-ton South Dakota class battleship built at Newport News, Virginia, was more powerful than many other battleships during the late 1940s.

Action in World War II

Armed with best technology and variety of tactics, the USS Indiana, harbored in the South Pacific, was a major accomplice during the war against Japan between November 1942 and October 1943.  After this, her task was shifted to battle against Gilbert Islands in November 1943 stretching forward to Marshalls in January 1944. Commitment to the war followed by the night collision with USS Washington resulted in damage of this ship in February 1944.

Retaliation from the damage came very fast, which made her buckle up for the raids on Japanese positions in Carolines.  She escorted carriers, creating a palpable atmosphere of strength and willingness among the US Navy officials. In June 1944, the ship was engaged in pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan – a battle that began on 13 June 1944 where fifteen battleships were involved and 165,000 shells were fired.  Following that conflict, she became an integral part of the Marianas campaign — an offensive launched by United States forces against Imperial Japanese forces in the Mariana Islands — and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Predictably enough, the USS Indiana responded by being so resilient during the hardship that the carrier was screened into assisting in strikes on the Palaus and Philippines. Considering her performance and other factors, she was picked up for invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, Ryukyus and Iwo Jima, putting an enormous amount of firepower onto the Japanese positions and capturing the three airfields on the island.

The impeccable repairs paid off by making the ship unassailable during a typhoon in June and the attack against Japan during the last weeks of the Pacific war — an invasion that surprised the Japanese high command and roughly paralleled the previous war. The ship did strikingly well in the later struggle, a move that had sealed the fate of Japanese, and was returned to the US to be placed in reserve status in September 1946.

After the War

She was formally decommissioned a year after the status change. The war was over, the Japanese military surrendered.  The collective actions of the Indiana’s crew immeasurably enhanced the stature of the United States in the post-war period.  Despite these achievements, the USS Indiana was sold for scrapping in October 1963.

Asbestos in Navy Ships

Although an essential component of the naval fleet throughout conflicts during the last century, battleships also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers who served on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common on these 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.


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