USS Santa Fe CL-60 (1942-1959)
The USS Santa Fe was a Cleveland-class light cruiser that weighed 10,000 tons. After being built in Camden, New Jersey, the ship was commissioned in November 1942.
Action in World War II
The Santa Fe headed to the Pacific in March 1943 and fought in the Aleutians theater in World War II. From April to August 1943, the Santa Fe patrolled the North Pacific, attacked Japanese targets at Attu and Kiska, and helped with the invasion of Kiska. In September 1943, the USS Santa Fe joined with aircraft carrier forces; it spent the next two years with these task groups. In September and October, the vessel attacked Gilbert and Wake Islands. The ship then participated in the Bougainville campaign and supported the invasion of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. It also provided cover for aircraft carriers that attacked the Marshall Islands.
After receiving further training, the USS Santa Fe returned to the Pacific theater in January 1944, aiding the invasion and attack on the Marshall Islands. From February to May 1944 the ship supported raids on the Carolines and Marianas, helped invade Emirau Island, and provided support to those invading the coasts of New Guinea. In June, the Santa Fe helped in the invasion of Saipan. In July, it helped take Guam and other Japanese positions. Through September 1944, the ship raided the Palaus, Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa, and it also annihilated an enemy convoy and helped the Houston and Canberra, two wounded cruisers, retreat for repairs.
The USS Santa Fe then aided in the invasion of Leyte in October 1944, participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On October 25, the Santa Fe sunk an enemy aircraft carrier and an enemy destroyer with its guns. Through 1944 and into the beginning of 1945, the Santa Fe helped attacks in the Philippines region. It also bombarded Iwo Jima in February 1945 and helped with attacks on other Japanese home islands through March. It also rescued the damaged Franklin aircraft carrier off the coast of Japan.
After the War
From April to July 1945, the USS Santa Fe received upgrades and repairs in California. It returned to the Pacific right before the Japanese surrendered and went to Japan to support the occupation of the northern region. It also brought troops home as a member of Operation “Magic Carpet.” The ship was decommissioned in October 1946, spending the rest of its years as a member of the Pacific Reserve Fleet in Washington. In November 1959, the Santa Fe was 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.