The USS Portsmouth was a Cleveland-division nimble cruiser and the third of only three to bear the name. Building began on June 28, 1943 and it was dispatched on September 20, 1944 on behalf of the sponsorship of Mrs. Marian M. Dale and Mrs. Sarah B. Leigh. It spent its complete career in the Atlantic Fleet until it was commissioned under the command of Captain Heber B. Brumbaugh on June 25, 1945.
The USS Portsmouth first active service, lasting well into 1946, was with the Operational Development Force. During the middle of 1946, the Portsmouth traveled along the African coast from Capetown to Casablanca and for a short time visited the Mediterranean Sea. It made a recurring deployment to the latter region from November 1946 to April 1947, going to the city of Trieste twice during that cruise.
The USS Portsmouth once more maneuvered through the Mediterranean in late 1947 and early 1948, then along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. It was decommissioned in 1949, mid-June. The Portsmouth lingered in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in December 1970. It was put on the market for scrap metal in March 1974. Two of its engines are still in use at the MARF facility as a prototype S7G nuclear reactor.
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.