Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Philadelphia was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was commissioned in September of 1937. It spent its early Navy career in the Atlantic before putting in two years in the Pacific. The cruiser was responsible for carrying then-current president Franklin D. Roosevelt on a Caribbean cruise and severing a role in the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, New York. After its stint in the Pacific from 1939-1941, it returned to the Atlantic in June to be employed on Neutrality Patrols as the tensions with Germany became more pronounced.
Action in World War II
When the U.S. became actively involved with World War II in December of 1941, the Philadelphia continued serving as a patrol and escort vessel. It guided two convoys to Scotland in 1942 and then served as the flagship of the Southern Attack Group, a group of vessels and troops involved in the invasion of North Africa in November. In 1943, it took part in several other transatlantic convoys and lent its strengths to the invasions of Sicily and Salerno. It also took part in several military operations, included using its guns to destroy German tanks.
The Philadelphia participated in the Anzio operation in 1944 from February to May, from which it went to take part in the invasion of Southern France in August where it was exposed to significant amounts of combat. In 1954, it took on the job of escorting the USS Augusta, which was carrying President Harry S. Truman to the Potsdam Conference, to and from Germany. That year, it carried U.S. service personnel from Europe to the United States during Operation “Magic Carpet.”
After the War
The Philadelphia was officially decommissioned in February of 1947 and then sold to Brazil in the early months of 1951. It was renamed the Barroso and served the Brazilian Navy for over twenty years. In 1973, it was scrapped and sold.
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.