Camden, New Jersey, was the birthplace of the USS Utah. The second of the two Florida class battleships, it featured direct-drive, steam turbines, ten 12”/45 guns, and sixteen 5”/51 guns. Her four propellers and steam turbines gave her a maximum speed of 20.75 knots. The USS Utah was launched in the winter of 1909 and finally commissioned by the US Navy in August 1911.
Action in World War I
During her early years in the service, the USS Utah toured the Atlantic. In 1913, she ventured into the Mediterranean waters. In late 1914, she was an integral part of the incident at Vera Cruz. The USS Utah continued to tour the Atlantic throughout World War I. From September through November of 1918, she was based in southern Ireland and was served as a cover for allied convoys near the British Isles.
After World War I, the USS Utah toured along the eastern United States coast and the Caribbean seas. From 1921 to 1922, she was assigned back to the European waters. The USS Utah visited South America on good-will missions in 1924 and 1925. In late 1925, the USS Utah was docked and thoroughly modernized. Utah was given new oil burning boilers, thicker decks, new gun positions, and reduction in masts. Then, she became a unit of the U.S. Scouting Fleet. In late 1928, the USS Utah carried President-Elect Herbert Hoover homeward from his South American tour.
In 1931, the USS Utah was converted to a radio-controlled target ship and redesignated as the AG-16. In the mid 30s, the Utah added anti-aircraft gunnery training ship to her resume. In 1941, she enhanced her gunnery training mission with a wider variety of guns. Later that year, the USS Utah joined the U.S. Fleet in the Hawaiian area. While docked at Pearl Harbor, the USS Utah was attacked from the air by Japanese planes and torpedoes. Her hull rolled over, and she sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Her hull was partially raised a few years later, and she was moved closer to Ford Island. Her remains are still docked there today.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet throughout conflicts during the last century, battleships also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers who served on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common on these 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.