The USS Mississippi, a 32,000 ton battleship, was built in Newport News, Virginia. It was launched in December of 1917 and operated mainly in the Western Atlantic until she was transferred to the Pacific Ocean in 1919. While performing fleet exercises, the ship would suffer a fatal fire in 1924 that took the lives of 48 crew members.
In 1931-1933 the Mississippi was brought up to modern standards for that day. Those updates included a new superstructure, better weapons, and even more protective armor than what was present beforehand. In October of 1934 she returned to the Pacific Ocean and started her normal exercises. However, the Mississippi was not able to stay in the Pacific for long and with the threat of a looming war in Europe the Mississippi was brought back to the Atlantic.
Action in World War II
After the Japanese surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor the Mississippi was sent back to the Pacific. In 1943 the Mississippi took part in operations that involved the Aleutians, and even aided in the capture of the Gilbert Islands. During the Gilbert Island operation the Mississippi had another mishap in the turrets and the resulting explosion ended up killing another 43 crew members.
After repairs were made the Mississippi went and helped in the capture of the island of Kwajalein in February 1944. Then the Mississippi went on to bombard many of the islands that the Japanese held in the region until March of that year. After doing that, the Mississippi was part of the large task force that took over the Peleliu and Leyete. They were even part of the task force that took on and defeated the Japanese at the Battle of Surigao Strait. Unfortunately, the battleship would not be spared damage during these operations and ended up receiving damage from the suicide planes. However, the damage was not significant enough to keep her from the formal surrender of Japan in 1945, after which she returned to the States.
After the War
In 1946 the Mississippi was made into a gunnery training vessel. In this role she would carry guns of the past and present to help people learn about all the weapons available. In 1956 the storied past of this great ship would come to an end as she was sold for scrap metal.
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.