Asbestos in the military

USS Astoria (CL-90)

Description:  History of the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Astoria (CL-90) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Astoria (CL-90) was ordered for the U.S. Navy before the United States entered World War II. Her keel was laid down by the William Cramp and Sons Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia on September 6, 1941. She was launched on March 6, 1943 and commissioned on May 17, 1944 under the command of Captain George Carroll Dyer.

USS Astoria arrived at Pearl Harbor on October 31, 1944 before reporting to Ulithi for service with Task Group 38.2 on November 25. On December 11, she sailed for her first war cruise, screening the carriers that supported the troop landings at Mindoro. Six days later, the cruiser weathered the typhoon that claimed the USS Spence, USS Hull, and USS Monaghan. She and the rest of the task force spent Christmas at Ulithi.

On December 30, the USS Astoria headed out with Task Force 38 to support the troop landings on January 9, 1945. After January 9, she headed to the South China Sea to support carrier operations as they hit targets in southern China, French Indochina, Formosa, Camranh Bay, Hong Kong, and Hainan Island.

When Admiral Spruance assumed command, Task Force 38 became Task Force 58. USS Astoria sailed with the force in February in support of operations against Honshu, Tokyo, and Chichi Jima. On February 18, she arrived at Iwo Jima, moving closer to shore three days later to provide gunfire support for the ground troops. After moving north to support the carrier strikes on Tokyo, the cruiser put in at Ulithi on March 3.

The USS Astoria sailed with Task Force 58 on March 14 to support the invasion of Okinawa. She remained at sea for 80 days in support of the operation, splashing 11 Japanese planes herself and assisting in downing many more. On June 1, the cruiser returned to Leyte for repairs and relaxation.

After the month long respite at Leyte, USS Astoria got underway for her last combat action of the war on July 1, screening the carriers as they struck at the Japanese home islands. Along with Cruiser Division 17, she helped conduct two enemy shipping sweeps off Honshu that did not produce any results.

When the Japanese surrendered on August 15, the USS Astoria remained with Task Force 38 as they patrolled off the coast of Honshu. She then returned to the United States, arriving at San Pedro on September 15.

From December 1945 until October 1946, USS Astoria operated along the West Coast from San Diego to Vancouver. On October 15, she headed for Guam via Pearl Harbor, where she remained until February 1948. The cruiser then returned home to San Diego, serving along the West Coast until October.

On October 1, the USS Astoria departed for another Far East deployment, visiting Tsingtao, Inchon, Pusan, Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Shanghai. She headed back to San Francisco via Pearl Harbor, arriving on March 8, 1949.

USS Astoria was decommissioned on July 1, 1949. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 1, 1969 and sold for scrap on January 12, 1971. The cruiser received five battle stars for her service in World War II.

Like other ships from the World War II era, the USS Astoria was built was asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was prized for its resistance to heat, fire, water, and corrosion, so it could be found in virtually all areas of the cruiser. Anyone who served onboard the USS Astoria or was involved in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing deadly asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

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

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