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U.S.S. Toledo CA-133 (Heavy Cruiser)

U.S.S. Toledo was a Baltimore class heavy cruiser, laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Company at the Camden NJ yard in 1943. Launched in the spring of 1945, Toledo did not enter service until October 1946, over a year after the war which it had been built to fight was ended.

In 1947 Toledo crossed the Atlantic and Mediterranean, transited the Suez Canal, and steamed to Yokosuka, Japan, where the ship operated in support of occupation forces there. In November, a cruise across the Pacific took the ship to Long Beach. The following spring, Toledo returned to Japanese waters, supporting the occupation and patrolling for smugglers.

Until 1950, Toledo operated in the Far East, interspersed with maintenance periods in the United States. The outbreak of fighting in Korea found the ship in Long Beach, from whence it steamed to Sasebo, Japan where it assumed the role of flagship for Cruiser Division 5. During the summer of 1950, Toledo patrolled the Korean coast, providing gunfire support and disrupting supply lines.

Toledo had the distinction of rescuing a downed flier, from USS Boxer, twice. The ship earned five battle stars for its service in Korean waters.

After the Korean War ended, Toledo would conduct western Pacific cruises, alternating with port visits to Long Beach for maintenance, rest and recreation for its crew, and updates. Regular scheduled overhauls interrupted this routine.

In 1955 Toledo entered Taiwanese waters to cover the withdrawal of Nationalist Chinese forces from the Tachen Islands. Joined with other cruisers and destroyers, Toledo provided close-in support to the ships and amphibious vessels evacuating the Chinese.

In 1958 Toledo visited Sydney, Australia as part of that nation’s celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle of the Coral Sea.

In 1960, Toledo was inactivated at Long Beach. Towed to San Diego, the ship was placed in the reserve fleet there, where it remained for fourteen years. Sold for scrap, the ship was broken up by the National Metal and Steel Corporation.

Toledo earned five battle stars for its service in the Korean Conflict.

Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Toledo

The extensive use of asbestos in shipbuilding has been well documented. U.S.S. Toledo was not exempt from this fact. The ship's boilers were lined with asbestos, pipe lagging, running throughout the ship was manufactured from asbestos cloth. Fireproofing material for decks and bulkheads contained asbestos, as did vibration dampers for ventilation systems, paint for the ships funnels, electrical insulation and panels, and gaskets for watertight doors and hatches.

Because of the extensive use of asbestos in all shipyards of the day, every visit to the shipyard for overhaul and repair exposed the ship, and its crew, to asbestos fibers in the air and carried on clothing. In shipyards, ships being service usually rely for power on the yard, frequently ventilation systems are shut down. Asbestos dust deposited from workers clothing, tools, equipment and materials could easily be scattered about the ship as a dust too fine to be seen.

The discharge of the ships eight and five-inch guns, as well as the high-speed runs frequently demanded by a cruiser’s operations, would dislodge asbestos fibers from the materials containing it as well. Toledo’s entire service life was completed before any serious effort at controlling asbestos exposure and removing it from use on ships was begun.

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