The USS Savannah was a Brooklyn-class light cruiser weighing 9,475 tons. The Savannah was built in Camden, New Jersey and commissioned during March of 1938. With the possibility of war, the USS Savannah traveled to Europe in September and October of the same year to protect America’s interests.
Action in World War II
The Savannah passed through the Panama Canal in May 1939, joining the United States Fleet in the Pacific Ocean. It remained in Hawaiian waters and along the west coast of the United States until May 1941. From this time, the USS Savannah was operating in the Atlantic as part of a Neutrality patrol until the United States was drawn into World War II in December 1941.
Operating from the eastern coast of the United States and the Caribbean, the USS Savannah spent its wartime career in the Atlantic theater. It participated in the French Morocco invasion in November 1942. The Savannah was sent to the south Atlantic in the early part of 1943 to assist in capturing the crew of the Kota Tjandi, a German blockade-runner. The Savannah provided support and gunfire for the Sicily invasion during July and August of 1943 as well as during the Salerno landings.
It was on September 11, 1943, just off Salerno, that the USS Savannah was hit. A German radio-controlled bomb damaged the ship’s forward and killed almost 200 of the crew. It was under its own power that it vacated these waters and was returned to the United States in December of 1943 for much needed repairs.
The repairs were extensive and resulted in the total replacement of the five-inch second battery. The hull of the Savannah was also widened during the repairs. This repair was finished in September 1944.
After the War
During January and February of 1945, the USS Savannah underwent operational training. After completion of this training, the Savannah was among the ships that escorted President Franklin Roosevelt on his trips to, as well as from, the Yalta Conference.
The majority of the USS Savannah’s remaining active service was spent in training duty. In 1945, the USS Savannah completed two trans-Atlantic voyages to transport service personnel to the United States from Europe. It was not active during 1946 and was decommissioned in February of 1947. The USS Savannah remained a member of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until March of 1959. It was removed from the Naval Vessel Register and sold for scrap in January 1960.
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.