USS Salem CA 139 (1949-1991)
The USS Salem was a Des Moines-class heavy cruiser that came in at 17,000 tons. It was commissioned in May of 1949 in Quincy, Massachusetts. As a flagship of the Sixth Fleet, the Salem traveled from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, making its first cruise in May of 1950.
Following its maiden cruise, the Salem was deployed annually. During the Salem’s seventh Mediterranean tour as a permanent Sixth Fleet flagship, it was present during the 1956 Suez crisis and the 1957 Jordan crisis. After brief service as the flagship of the Second Fleet, the Salem traveled from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in September of 1958.
The Salem was decommissioned in January of 1959, placed to reserve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and stricken from the register in July 1991. It has served as a museum ship in Quincy, Massachusetts since 1994.
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.