USS Oakland, a 6,000-ton light cruiser, was built in San Francisco, California. It was the first among four of its kind and was commissioned in mid-July 1943. Oakland had its training and shakedown off the West Coast and its arrival was early enough in the Pacific war zone to accompany the high-speed carriers for the period of the offensive on Gilbert Islands in November 1943 and the later invasion into the Marshalls.
Action in World War II
During the first two months of 1944, seizure of bases by the U.S. forces in the Marshall Islands took place with the Oakland acting in a carrier screening role. During that time, Central Pacific enemy-held islands were raided by U.S forces, including attacks on Saipan, a clash with the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the takeover of Guam, all with help from the Oakland. Carrier strikes against Formosa, Okinawa, Palaus, and the Bonin Islands, including those in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, also took place from August through October 1944, which the USS Oakland was also involved with. The rest of the year saw Oakland very active as the campaign to liberate the Philippines, Japanese facilities in the Western Pacific and the Asian mainland gained momentum.
The return of Oakland to the area of combat occurred in the later part of March, following its overhaul on the West Coast, which took the first part of 1945 to accomplish. The following four and a half month saw Oakland protecting the Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers from enemy counterattacks in the course of the attack on the Japanese home islands and the fierce confrontation for Okinawa.
After the War
When the opponents formally lay down their arms in 2 September 1945, the light cruiser was in attendance, together with other ships, in Tokyo Bay. Veterans of the Pacific War were sent home by the three “Magic Carpet” voyages the Oakland undertook from October to December 1945. By 1946, the vessel was listed for inactivation, though it was still put to use for three additional years as a gunnery training vessel. It even went on a tour in 1947 to the Western Pacific. By March 1949, it was reclassified CLAA-95 and in July 1950 was decommissioned. After nearly a decade’s service in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, it was deleted from the Naval Vessel Register in March and sold for scrap in December 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.