The Oklahoma City, a 10,000-ton Cleveland class light cruiser, was constructed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and commissioned in December 1944. It cruised to the western Atlantic area, and then sailed to the Pacific in the spring of 1945 to participate in the war against Japan.
Action in World War II
In June of 1945, the ship arrived in the western Pacific to protect Third Fleet aircraft carriers as they performed attacks against Japanese forces and targets in the area of Okinawa and the Japanese home islands. After the war ended in mid-August, the Oklahoma City stayed in the region until January 1946. It then sailed to the U.S. West Coast, where it was decommissioned at the end of June 1947.
After the War
The Oklahoma City was placed in reserve until 1957. The ship was ordered to be removed from the Pacific Reserve fleet and entered a San Francisco shipyard to begin the process of converting the light cruiser to a guided missile cruiser. The ship was also re-designated the CLG-5 in May 1957.
In 1960, the transformation of the Oklahoma City from a light cruiser vessel to a guided missile cruiser was complete. New guided Talo missiles were placed in place of the gun stations. Electronic equipment was placed on board and the ship was equipped to be a fleet flagship with various command centers on board.
The Oklahoma City was re-commissioned in September 1960. It was assigned to the western Pacific in December 1961, operating as Seventh Fleet flagship from then until May 1962, when it was relieved and returned to the U.S.
Action in the Vietnam War
The cruiser sailed back to the western Pacific waters in July 1964 to embark on its second tour as flagship of the Seventh Fleet. This tour corresponded with growing troop escalations by the U.S. in the Vietnam conflict, and beginning in mid-1965 the Oklahoma City frequently operated in Vietnamese waters, providing much needed gunfire support. In December 1966, the Oklahoma City was relieved as fleet flagship by the USS Providence.
The Oklahoma City made frequent Vietnam War attacks during the next four years, hitting targets with its six and five-inch guns. Re-designated CG-5 in mid-1975, it was a fleet flagship until October 1979. In December of the year 1979, the Oklahoma City was formally decommissioned. The ship remained in reserve until March 26 of 1999, when the ship was sunk during combat training off the coast of Guam.
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.