U.S.S. Horne CG-30 (Guided Missile Cruiser)
Built by the San Francisco Naval Shipyards and commissioned into the US Navy in 1967, U.S.S. Horne was one of the nine cruisers comprising the Belknap class. As the US Navy evolved in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the aircraft carrier became the primary means of projecting naval power throughout the globe. Cruisers became the primary means of protecting the carrier task groups from threats from enemy surface, submarine and air forces. Horne was built to accomplish this task.
Horne operated throughout its career with the Pacific fleet, accomplishing four deployments to Vietnam, where it supported carrier operations in the Gulf of Tonkin, protecting the carriers, rescuing downed airmen, and tracking enemy aircraft.
During the 1981 Iranian hostage crisis, Horne deployed via the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf as part of the American build-up of forces in the region. When the hostages were finally released, Horne used its radars to track the airplane carrying the former hostages to safety, while simultaneously watching for any potential threat from any hostile action.
Operation Desert Storm found Horne again deployed to the Persian Gulf where its radars and tactical abilities were used to control the deployment of aircraft from both land and sea-based areas, directing them against targets. Horne controlled the airborne tankers which contributed to the air campaign with in-flight refueling for the fighters and strike aircraft. When US ships were damaged by mines, Horne provided cover for the stricken vessels.
Horne’s ability to control airborne assaults led it to directing aircraft to attack and destroy at least six Iraqi naval vessels, while severely damaging several others.
In the 1990s Horne, along with several other naval vessels, took an active role in the war on drugs. Although the US Navy has a long history in combating smuggling, this was a new step for the United States in its attempt to interdict the illegal drug trade. Horne’s aircraft tracking abilities were used to follow planes suspected of carrying contraband, allowing the authorities to arrest the occupants and confiscate the cargo upon landing.
Horne was decommissioned in 1993 and transferred to the reserve fleet. Held in mothballs until 2008, the ship was disposed of by sinking during a fleet exercise.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Horne
As with any ship which has been destroyed by sinking, it is impossible to determine how much asbestos was present in the ship at the time of its decommissioning. A review of common shipbuilding practices at the time of its construction can be used to determine those areas of the ship in which asbestos was certainly present.
Asbestos, due to its superior thermal insulation properties, was used in a wide variety of applications and materials. Boilers were lined with asbestos insulation, and clutch and brake linings were manufactured using asbestos. Gaskets, seals, valve packing, cements and epoxies, paint, solvents, deck tiles, fire retardant, overhead tiles, insulating blankets, and electrical panels all contained the material.
Throughout the ship, asbestos insulation was used to wrap pipe, a process known as lagging. Asbestos lagging was present in virtually every compartment on board the ship. Though painted, deterioration to the paint or damage from maintenance of other equipment, or accident, would expose the asbestos, allowing it to release microscopic fibers, known to cause asbestosis, to the air. In the labyrinth which any ship is, exposed asbestos could easily go undetected for long periods of time.
There are many published reports of massive asbestos contamination on ships contemporaneous to Horne which were destroyed by being broken up for scrap.