USS Newport News CA-148 (1948-1975)

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The Newport News was a naval warship that was commenced on March 6th, 1948. It was constructed by a shipbuilding company located in Newport News, Virginia. Mrs. Homer T. Ferguson funded the cruiser; its commander was Captain Roland N. Smoot.

Service Around the World

From 1950 to 1961, it was sent to the Mediterranean annually. The ship was a part of the Sixth Fleet, and it was used for military training in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. By September 1957, it was prepared to assist in the Syrian crisis.

The Newport News aided survivors of a major earthquake that destroyed the city of Agadir, Morocco. The ship originally was heading to Sicily, and the earthquake occurred in March 1960. The cruiser traveled 1,225 miles in just under 41 hours, and at approximately 31 knots. It reached the city on March 3rd, and was able to provide residents with medical assistance.

The Newport News was then ordered to the Dominican Republic on June 4th, 1961, due to the assassination of General Trujillo. The homicide caused the city of Santo Domingo to become volatile, and the US military helped defuse the situation. It then became a part of military training near Puerto Rico, and later traveled to Norfolk.

The ship was renovated in 1962 to make room for Commander Second Fleet and the extended workforce this entailed. It spent a month in Northern Europe working with NATO as a flagship. On October 22nd it was sent to assist with the Cuban Quarantine. Again, the Newport News was a flagship, and it was positioned on the northeast side of Cuba. The ship was able to return home to Norfolk just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Between the years 1963 to 1967, the Newport’s workload was mainly in the North Atlantic. It was assigned to assist with NATO training, and it was put to use in the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean for amphibious and gunnery military training.  The ship steamed back to the Dominican Republic in 1965 to assist with a crisis occurring there. In 1967, it left for South East Asia as part of a six month assignment where it used its eight inch rifles against North Vietnam for the first time. The Newport News used the Panama Canal to return home on May 13th 1968.

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.


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