Asbestos in the military

USS Amsterdam (CL-101)

Description:  History of the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Amsterdam (CL-101) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Amsterdam (CL-101) was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company on March 3, 1943. She was launched on April 25, 1944 and commissioned on January 8, 1945 under the command of Captain Andrew P. Lawton.

During her shakedown training, USS Amsterdam practiced shore bombardment at Culebra in Puerto Rico. She conducted a number of gunnery exercises before and after her arrival at Pearl Harbor on May 18, 1945. On June 9, she sailed for Leyte, arriving at San Pedro Bay 12 days later.

Now in the war zone, the USS Amsterdam joined Task Force 38 on July 1 to cover the air strikes on the Japanese home islands. Nine days later, her task force began raiding Japanese shipping, factories, and airfields, and she helped protect the carriers from enemy attacks. As the task force prepared to launch another attack on August 15, the Japanese surrendered. The cruiser remained in the area, entering Tokyo Bay from September 5 until September 20.

After World War II, USS Amsterdam headed back to the United States, stopping briefly at Okinawa and Pearl Harbor to bring veterans home from the war. She arrived at Portland, Oregon on October 15, remaining there for Navy Day celebrations at the end of the month. The cruiser then proceeded to San Pedro.

From there, the USS Amsterdam made a round trip to Pearl Harbor, carrying personnel and equipment back to the mainland with her. She remained in California until she was decommissioned on June 30, 1947. The cruiser was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on January 2, 1971 and sold for scrap on February 11, 1972. She was awarded one battle star for her service in World War II.

Like virtually every other ship built in her time, the USS Amsterdam was constructed out of a number of asbestos-containing components. Because the toxic substance asbestos was prized for its resistance to fire, heat, water, and corrosion, it would used in nearly all areas of the cruiser, including floor and ceiling tiles, wall insulation, fire doors, engine rooms, turbines, incinerators, boilers, steam pipes, hot water pipes, valves, gaskets, pumps, caulking, electrical wiring, sealants, and rope. Anyone who served onboard the USS Amsterdam or participated in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related illnesses like throat cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, asbestosis, and  mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.

USS Amsterdam 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 Amsterdam, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

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