The USS Vincennes, a 10,000 ton vessel, was one of the Cleveland-class light cruisers. The ship was built in Quincy, Massachusetts and commissioned in January of 1944. The ship initially performed shakedown operations in the area surrounding the Caribbean.
Action in World War II
In early May of 1944, the Vincennes was sent to the Pacific war zone, beginning first in Pearl Harbor. Initially placed in the Task Force 58, the cruiser was in action soon after arrival at Pearl Harbor, joining the Marianas Campaign during June, July, and August. The primary responsibility of the USS Vincennes during the Battle of the Philippine Sea was to screen aircraft carriers; it carried out similar duties during the strikes on the Mariana, Bonin, and Volcano Islands.
In September, during the Palaus Campaign, the Vincennes continued its operations with fast carriers and continued strikes in the Western Pacific in the beginning of October. In late October, the Vincennes saw action in the Battle of Leyte and shortly after, from November 1944 to January 1945, the ship was included in the Philippines Campaign. Off the shore of Palaus, the USS Vincennes bombarded an enemy and destroyed a Japanese warship during the latter end of the battle within Leyte Gulf. The ship was also responsible for covering damaged ships as they left the battle. These ships include the USS Houston and Canberra which were hit with torpedoes near Formosa in October.
In February and March of 1945, the Vincennes was a part of attacks on the Japanese islands during the Iwo Jima Campaign. The ship was used primarily to escort carrier ships but the guns aboard the ship were also used to shell the Okino Daito Shima. For the first month at Okinawa, the Vincennes was used as a carrier screen but towards the end of March, the ship shifted gears and was used as a bombarder in order to support the ground operations at Okinawa.
After the War
The Vincennes was revamped off the coast of California in July and August of 1945, and returned to the battle just when the Japanese were surrendering. For the remainder of 1945, the ship was used as a transporter as an intricate part in Operation “Magic Carpet”, designed to bring as many Americans home from the Pacific area. The Vincennes spent time in the South Pacific and New Zealand. March of 1946 marked the beginning of the Vincennes’ inactivity and soon following the ship was decommissioned.
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.