Built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 7,050-ton Omaha-class light cruiser, the USS Richmond, was commissioned in July 1923. An extensive three-month shakedown cruise took the Richmond to Europe, Africa, and South America. At the end of 1923 it was named flagship of the Scouting Force based in the Atlantic. The next several years saw the Richmond engaged in a variety of operations and exercises.
Service in the Panama Canal
It participated in Fleet Problem III, testing the defenses of the Panama Canal, in early January 1924. Later that month, on January 19, the Richmond rescued survivors of the USS Tacoma, which had foundered on a reef off Veracruz, Mexico. From July to August it supported an around-the-world flight attempt by the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving as a station ship. It rescued two aviators when their float plane encountered engine trouble and sank.
In April 192, the Richmond made its first transit through the Panama Canal. Following a stop in Hawaii for joint exercises with the Army, it steamed to Australia and New Zealand as part of a U.S. Battle Fleet good will cruise. From February 1927 to May 1928, it sailed in the Far East, spending the majority of that time in Chinese waters. The Richmond then returned to the Atlantic.
September 1934 saw the Richmond move back to the Pacific as a member of the Scouting Fleet. It became flagship of the Submarine Force from 1937-40. Based in Hawaii in early 1941, it carried the Commander of the Scouting Force.
Action in World War II
After war broke out, the Richmond operated in the southeastern Pacific, escorting convoys and patrolling the west coast of the United States and South America. In January 1943, the Richmond sailed to the North Pacific for the Aleutian Campaign. As flagship of Task Group 16.6, it participated in the February bombardment of Attu Island. Richmond stayed in Aleutian waters for the next two years. It conducted active patrols and in February of 1944, participated in bombardment missions against the Kuril Islands. When hostilities ended in August 1945, the Richmond supported the occupation in Northern Japan.
Following the war it returned to Philadelphia and was decommissioned on September 21st, 1945. Struck from the Naval Register one month later, it was then sold for scrap.
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.