USS New Orleans CA-32 (1934-1959)
Action in World War II
The USS New Orleans was built in the New York Navy Yard and saw service from 1934 through 1959. It is one ship of seven in the class of heavy cruisers with approximately 10,000 tons of displacement. In the year of its commission, it sailed to the Pacific to complete operations with another cruiser, the Houston, and an air ship, the Macon. The New Orleans then spent the better part of the next two years of service in the Atlantic and was then regularly stationed in the Pacific after early 1937.
It was at the Naval Yard at Pearl Harbor undergoing an overhaul when the Japanese launched their infamous attack on the Pacific fleet in December of 1941. Afterward it escorted troopships to the Pacific Islands to help stop the Japanese offensive.
The New Orleans saw more action in 1942 in the Battle of the Coral Sea and just a month later at the Battle of Midway. Its main objective in both battles was to help protect Navy aircraft carriers from enemy fire. Later in 1942, it served as a screen to the USS Saratoga during the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. Later in the year of 1942, in November, the New Orleans was severely damaged after receiving a torpedo from a Japanese destroyer during the battle of Tassafaronga. The torpedo took away part of its bow between the two forward gun turrets. Quick thinking by its crew saved its and it was able to receive temporary repairs at Tulagi and then Sydney, Australia.
It didn’t take long to fully repair the New Orleans and it was back in service by late August, 1943. For the duration of the war in the Pacific, it used its guns to bombard Japanese shore positions as part of the carrier task forces. The New Orleans saw major combat operations during the years 1943 to 1944 as well as a list of raids in the central and western Pacific. After an overhaul on the west coast, it participated in the Okinawa campaign from April to June 1945.
After the War
After fighting had ended in the Pacific, it covered occupation operations in China and Korea. It arrived at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia in March 1946 and began preparations for deactivation, formally being decommissioned in February, 1947. The New Orleans then spent 12 years in the Reserve Fleet, and was sold for scrap in September 1959.
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.