On September 9, 1931, the USS San Francisco was laid down in the Mare Island Navy Yard. On March 9, 1933, the San Francisco was launched and then, on February 10, 1934, commissioned.
Action in World War II
World War II began on September 1, 1939. The San Francisco was sent to join the Neutrality Patrol on September 14, 1939. The San Francisco patrolled the West Indies until October 14, 1939 and then returned to Norfolk. The ship remained there until January 11, 1940 and then was sent to Guantanamo Bay. In March of 1940, the San Francisco headed towards Pearl Harbor which became its home port. When the Japanese attacked, the San Francisco was being overhauled. Though not complete, the ship engaged in gunfire with the enemy.
On January 8, 1942, the San Francisco headed towards Samoa to assist transports. On February 10, 1942, it joined forces and headed out for the Solomon Islands. Unfortunately, the enemy discovered the American forces and began an attack that led to an American retreat. On March 26, 1942, the San Francisco arrived in Pearl Harbor for repairs. On April 22, the ship began escorting convoys to the south Pacific. During the invasion of Tulagi and Guadalcanal in August of 1942, the San Francisco served along with aircraft carriers as a task force flagship. The ship was badly damaged during the battle.
During 1943, the San Francisco was sent to help recover the Kiska and Attu. Then in October of 1943, it was sent to participate in the attack on Wake Island that was being occupied by the Japanese. The San Francisco helped to capture the Gilbert Islands and participate in the invasion of the Marshall Islands. As 1944 came to an end and in the early months of 1945, the San Francisco was sent to accompany carrier task forces. On August 28, 1945, the San Francisco headed for the Chinese coast to participate in minesweeping operations.
After the War
The San Francisco began its journey home on November 27, 1945 and on January 19, 1946, the San Francisco arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On February 10, 1946, the cruiser was decommissioned. It was removed from the Naval Vessel Register on March 1, 1959. The Union Mineral and Alloys Corporation in New York bought the ship on September 9, 1959 and in 1961, the ship was scrapped in Panama City, Florida.
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.