The USS Vicksburg CL-86 was constructed in Newport News, Virginia. This Cleveland-class light cruiser weighed 10,000 tons and was commissioned in June 1944. Forty nine of these ships were built for the Navy. The goal for these cruisers was increased range and AA armament compared to earlier classes. All forty-nine survived the war, and all were put out-of-commission by 1950, except the six that were overhauled to be missile ships. The last surviving Cleveland-class cruiser is the USS Little Rock, which sits in a museum.
The USS Vicksburg had her shakedown in the waters of the West Indies and the Chesapeake Bay from October until December of 1944. She was then utilized in the Long Island Sound as a training vessel for the Marines. At the beginning of 1945 she was sent to the Pacific Ocean.
Action in World War II
From February until March of that year she fought a tough and bloody battle, giving support at Iwo Jima as the Marines invaded the enemy-occupied island. During the raids against Kyushu, she acted as an escort for aircraft carriers. She also fought off Japanese aircraft herself. She then continued to attack Iwo Jima’s defenders for the next two months around the Ryukus, having to dodge Kamikaze planes the whole time.
She managed to survive this, next heading to the China Sea to help sweep for mines. In the middle of August of 1945, at the time that the Japanese surrendered, she was deployed to help guard the surrender ceremonies in the former enemy’s waters near the Philippines. This ceremony took place on September 2, 1945.
After the War
She then continued to help out with occupation efforts from the waters of the Philippines, slowly making her way to Okinawa to act as a transport back home for military personnel, officers and soldiers. Finally getting home to San Francisco, California in October, she served the California coast until the beginning of 1947. She entered the naval reserve after being put out of commission in June of 1947. The USS Vicksburg was stricken in October of 1962, and sold for scrap in August of 1964.
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.