The USS Providence was commissioned in 1945 in Massachusetts. In September and October, the cruiser trained in Caribbean waters and departed for the Mediterranean Sea in November. The Providence was decommissioned in June 1949 and became a part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
In May of 1957, the USS Providence, originally a light cruiser, was reclassified as a guided-missile light cruiser. Sent to the Boston Naval Shipyard in Massachusetts from the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, the vessel began its transformation. Almost all of the ship’s original structure was stripped away, leaving only 1 of 4 six inch gun turrets and 6 five inch gun mounts. The Providence was armed with twin launcher “Terrier” guided missiles, an enlarged structure, modern radar equipment, and advanced communication systems. After 2 years, in 1959, the Providence was re-commissioned. It rejoined the fleet in July of 1960.
By October of 1960, the newly commissioned Providence made its way across the Pacific for its first Eastern deployment, which lasted until 1961. After a short break the Providence returned to Eastern Asia waters in May of 1962 and became the flagship of the acclaimed 7th Fleet. Its new home port became Yokosuka, Japan, where it remained for two years before making its trip back to the U.S.
Action in the Vietnam War
On its 3rd stint with the 7th Fleet, the Providence traveled to Southeast Asia. Its highly advanced electronics and modern capabilities were used not only to control air operations but to shell enemy targets on shore as well. In February 1968, the Providence provided vital shelling in support of the Marines and eventually captured the city of Hue. Before the Tet offensive, it was briefly deployed to North Korean waters to aide in the seizure of the U.S. intelligence ship, the Pueblo.
In the early parts of the 1970s, the Providence was once again used as a flagship, this time for the 1st Fleet, still operating in the Eastern Pacific. North Vietnam’s offensive in 1972 had the Providence sent back to the Far East once again. It spent the rest of that year on the offensive against North Vietnam.
After the War
After a long tour in the East, the Providence made its way home in December of 1972 to begin preparations for deactivation. In August of 1973, the Providence was decommissioned in San Diego, California and placed on a reserve status. The Providence was towed to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, where it was re-designated CG-6 in 1975. In July of 1978, the USS Providence was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. It was sold for scrap in 1980.
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.