The Minneapolis, a New Orleans class heavy cruiser weighing 9,950-tons, was constructed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Pennsylvania. During its shakedown, after commissioning in May 1934, it sailed to Europe. The Minneapolis was then sent through the Panama Canal in April 1935 to commence with its duties as part of the U.S. Fleet. Throughout the 1930’s, it participated in peacetime operations, primarily in the Pacific. As tensions with Japan began to mount, it was reassigned in 1940 to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Action in World War II
At the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the Minneapolis was nearby at sea. It served predominantly with aircraft carriers for the next few months, assisting with raids in February and March 1942. In early May, it took part in the battle at Coral Sea and, in June, at Midway. In early August, the Minneapolis took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi, and later that month at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. On August 31, the Minneapolis aided the torpedoed Saratoga.
As flagship of a force of cruisers and destroyers, the Minneapolis intercepted several Japanese destroyers off Guadalcanal November 30, 1942. It was one of four U.S. cruisers hit by enemy torpedoes that day, forcing it out of action. Its bow was blown off and it took a direct hit amidships, ripping a hole in its side, and taking out most of its power plant. It was badly in need of emergency repairs, which it received locally, then went on to Mare Island Navy Yard for additional repairs. In late August 1943 it returned to active duty.
Minneapolis participated in Pacific operations, engaging in combat, raids and invasions. Notable engagements included its November 1943 landing in the Gilberts and its involvement in the Marshalls in January 1944. In June it invaded Saipan, then assisted in the Battle of the Philippine Sea later that month. In July and August, the Minnesota captured Guam. It landed in Palaus in September; in October it landed at Leyte and on October 24 and 25, it engaged in the last major gunfire battle of the war, the Battle of Surigao Strait.
After the War
Through April 1945, the Minneapolis provided support in the Philippines and Okinawa for amphibious assaults. When fighting ended, it covered occupation operations in Korea and China later that year, also bringing home U.S. service personnel. The Minneapolis was decommissioned in February 1947, and in August 1959, it was sold as scrap. For service in World War II, the USS Minneapolis was awarded 17 battle stars.
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.