USS Washington BB-56 (1941-1961)

The USS Washington, assembled in Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, weighed in at a hefty 35.000 tons. A North Carolina class battleship, she was called to service in the United States Navy in May 1941 and spent time in the Atlantic for “close to war.” She remained there for over a year for wartime operations.

Action in World War II

The USS Washington worked from April to July 1942 in the North Atlantic with the British Home Fleet. After this, she was overhauled and put into the South Pacific, where she joined with U.S. Forces in September for the Guadalcanal Campaign. In the last chapter of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 14 and 15, 1942, she served as Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee’s flagship. During these nights in battle action, the USS Washington’s sixteen-inch guns put the Kirishima, a Japanese battleship, out of service by fatally damaging it.

Into 1944, the USS Washington served in the Central Pacific and in the South Pacific. In November 1943, she participated in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, and in the early part of the next year, she helped invade the Marshalls. During the invasion of the Marshalls on February 1, 1944, she collided with the battleship USS Indiana and crushed her bow. After being repaired, USS Washington joined the fleet again in time to help out with the U.S. invasion of the Marianas in June 1944 and the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, brought about by that invasion. Throughout the following year, the USS Washington participated in wartime operations to conquer and overtake the Leyte, Palaus, Luzon, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. She also provided support for the fast carriers during their raids out in the Western Pacific. During the last couple of months of the Pacific War, USS Washington was undergoing overhaul. In October 1945, she traversed the Panama Canal into the Atlantic.

After the War

As her final order of active duty, she transported veteran servicemen from Europe to home. In June 1947, USS Washington was taken out of commission and stored from that time until in May 1961. Then the USS Washington was sold to be used as scrapping.

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.