USS Massachusetts BB-59 (1942-1965)

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The USS Massachusetts is a 35,000 ton naval vessel that saw action throughout World War II, and today exists as a museum and memorial ship resting at Fall River, MA. Originally commissioned in the early summer of 1942, the ship was part of the invasion of North Africa during the winter of that same year. The USS Massachusetts saw action in the Battle of Casablanca, as well as combat near Morocco, before being sent to reinforce the Pacific fleet during the early part of the next year.

Action in World War II

The ship was busy through the entirety of the Second World War, participating in the invasions of several enemy islands, including the Gillberts and Marshalls, in the waning days of 1943 and early days of 1944. The USS Massachusetts also participated in the Hollandia invasions during the spring of 1944.

After being overhauled midway through 1944, the ship would go on to participate in the battles at Formosa and Okinawa, as well as campaigns throughout the Philippines. The ship also acted as fire support during the invasion of Iwo Jima during the early part of 1944. In the last days of the war the USS Massachusetts also contributed to the bombardment of the Japanese home islands.

During the final days of the war the USS Massachusetts was involved in several important operations, including the final battleship bombardment of the war in August of 1945. During the battle the ship opened fire on the Japanese warship Kaimaishi.

After the War

The USS Massachusetts was overhauled once more in the late months of 1945, and was stationed in the Pacific until April of 1946 when the ship was set to the Atlantic fleet. Spring of the next year saw the ship decommissioned, and retained as part of the reserve fleet, where it would remain until 1962 when it was decommissioned, and sent to Fall River, MA, to begin life as a WWII era museum and memorial.

Through the entire war no US sailors or Marines were killed in action while stationed aboard the Massachusetts, despite the ship’s heavy participation in some of the most pitched naval battles of the days. Today the USS Massachusetts stands as one of only eight battleships from that era that has avoided being scrapped and is open to the public for viewing.

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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