Asbestos in the military

USS Albany (CA-123)

Description:  History of the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Albany (CA-123) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Albany (CA-123) was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her keel was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Company on March 6, 1944. She was launched on June 30, 1945 and commissioned on June 15, 1946 under the command of Captain Harold A. Carlisle.

In her early career, USS Albany operated off the East Coast and in the West Indies. She conducted a number of training cruises to naval reservists and NROTC midshipmen until September 11, 1948. On that date, she departed Chesapeake Bay for her first Mediterranean deployment with the Sixth Fleet. Over the next 10 years, she would continue to alternate Mediterranean cruises with East Coast operations, West Indies operations, and cruises to South America. In January 1951, she transported the official U.S. representative to the inauguration of the President of Brazil.

USS Albany was decommissioned from June 30, 1958 until November 3, 1962 as she underwent conversion as a guided missile cruiser. She was redesignated as CG-10 on November 1, 1958. Upon her recommissioning, she resumed her repertoire of Mediterranean cruises with operations in the North Atlantic, along the West Coast, and in the West Indies.

During her foreign cruises, the USS Albany participated in many naval exercises with friendly foreign naval units. She was again decommissioned from March 1, 1967 until November 9, 1968 as she underwent another series of modifications. The cruiser spent a third period of decommissioning from 1973 until May 1974 during a major overhaul at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Upon her recommissioning, she operated out of her homeport in Norfolk, soon becoming the flagship of the Second Fleet.

After the honor of serving as the flagship of the Second Fleet, USS Albany had her homeport shifted to Gaeta, Italy, where she served as the flagship of the Sixth Fleet from 1976 until 1980. The cruiser was decommissioned for the last time on August 29, 1980. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 30, 1985 and sold for scrap in 1990. Part of the cruiser’s bow is kept at the Albany County Fairgrounds in Altamont, NY.

Like nearly every other ship built during World War II, the USS Albany was constructed using a number of asbestos-containing components. The toxic substance asbestos was prized for its fireproofing properties as well as its resistance to corrosion, heat, and water. Because of this, it could be found in virtually all areas of the cruiser, including turbines, incinerators, gaskets, boilers, valves, steam pipes, hot water pipes, caulking, pumps, wall insulation, fire doors, rope, engine rooms,  floor tiles, and ceiling tiles. Anyone who served onboard the USS Albany or participated in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and mesothelioma, a type of cancer that targets the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.

USS Albany workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma.  Anyone who worked in or around the USS Albany, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

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