The USS Salt Lake City was a Pensacola-class heavy cruiser that was built in Camden, New Jersey. It was commissioned in December of 1929. The ship’s first two years of active service took place in the Atlantic Ocean. It was moved to the West Coat of the U.S. in 1932 and frequented the Pacific Ocean. It also made trips to the Panama Canal to take part in training operations in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean.

Action in World War II

When the U.S. was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, the Salt Lake City was out at sea with the USS Enterprise task force. It remained in Hawaii for the next two months as part of the task force that raided the Central Pacific in February and March. In April of 1942, it was sent to the Western Pacific as part of the Doolittle raid on the home islands. It was also sent to the Guadalcanal campaign for the seizure and support of those islands. It aided the USS Wasp during those landings and again in future operations. The Salt Lake City was also present when the Wasp was sunken by a Japanese submarine.

The Salt Lake City received some damage in a surface gun battle at Cape Esperance. After being repaired, it was sent into the North Pacific. It was the largest of all the U.S. ships at the Battle of Komandorski Islands. Though it received some damage, it was able to support the campaign before returning to Hawaii.

It also provided assistance in quite a large number of the operations that took place in the Pacific, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944. In 1945, the Salt Lake City participated in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. It was present during the occupation of Japan and the transport of American troops back to the U.S. The cruiser was decommissioned and served as a target for the atomic bomb testing in Bikini Atoll. It was sunken in 1948 by target practice.

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.


Naval Historical Center

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