The USS Raleigh was part of the Omaha class of light cruisers and was built in Massachusetts. It was commissioned in early 1924 and its first cruise was in Northern Europe in the middle of the same year.
After four years, it began operations with the Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Caribbean. It headed back to European waters in September of 1928 and was part of a year-long tour that was in action there. The Raleigh served as the flagship for that touring fleet, its home base moved to San Diego, California in 1933.
The Raleigh served as the flagship of Squadron 40-T during the years of 1936 to 1938. It operated off the coast of Spain during the nation’s civil war. It was then sent to Hawaii for the rest of the 1930s and early into the 1940s for fleet exercises.
Action in World War II
During the Pearl Harbor raid, the Raleigh was moored in the harbor. It failed to escape the battle without being severely damaged by a torpedo, but it was fortunate enough to avoid being hit by any of the bombs. It was repaired at Pearl Harbor, but required more repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yards. The cruiser was ready for return to the war in the middle of 1942.
The Raleigh operated mainly in the South and Central Pacific Oceans for the rest of that year. It was then sent to defend the Aleutian Islands, remaining at that station until the summer of 1945. It partook in convoy escorts, patrolling the waters, and bombarding the home islands of Japan. Later, it returned to the Atlantic Ocean and to train Naval Academy midshipmen. The Raleigh was decommissioned in November of 1945 and sold for scrap only a few months later.
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.