U.S.S. Galveston CL 93/CLG 3 (Light Cruiser)
Constructed by William Cramp & Sons, Galveston was a Cleveland class cruiser that was nearly complete in 1946 when work on the ship was suspended. Transferred to the Philadelphia segment of the reserve fleet, the hull lay idle until 1958, when it was reclassified CLG 3 and completed as a guided missile light cruiser.
Equipped with the Talos missile system, designed to destroy high flying aircraft, Galveston operated along the east coast in 1958 and early 1959, where it successfully test fired the first Talos missile ever fired at sea. After shakedown operations in July 1959, Galveston made several training and evaluation cruises designed to evaluate the effectiveness of both the ship and its weapons.
Through 1962 Galveston continued in this role, evaluating the anti-aircraft systems and training with Navy, Marine, and Air Force aircraft. The ship entered the Pacific in 1963, operating along the west coast, and conducting its first western Pacific cruise in 1964.
Galveston deployed to Vietnam in 1965, providing air defense for carrier operations and gunfire support of operations ashore. Following modernization in 1966, the ship returned to the Atlantic for operations there. In 1968 Galveston returned to Vietnam for its final tour, ending in early 1969 when it returned to the Atlantic fleet yet again.
Returning to the Atlantic via the Panama Canal, Galveston paid a visit to its namesake city before entering Norfolk. In May the ship transited to the Mediterranean to support the operations of the Sixth Fleet. At the end of the deployment, Galveston passed through the Panama Canal again, in the opposite direction and went to San Diego.
The Talos system did possess nuclear weapon capability and could be used as a ship to ship weapon, but by the early 1970s, the large size of the missile and new weapons in development rendered further support of the program problematic. Although Galveston had been in service for only twelve years, the design of its hull was of 1940s vintage and the decision was made to retire the vessel and its weapons systems.
Accordingly, Galveston was decommissioned and transferred to the reserve fleet in 1970. Three years later it was stricken from the naval register and in 1975 the Navy reported it as sold.
Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Galveston
As with all ships built at the time, asbestos was used in numerous items and systems throughout the ship during its construction and during its numerous overhauls and modifications. Asbestos-lined piping snaked throughout the ship, in berthing spaces, dining spaces, and workspaces. Though painted, normal ship operations would cause the paint to flake, releasing asbestos dust into the air and into the ships ventilation system. Numerous components in the engineering spaces were manufactured from asbestos materials, as were electrical panels, insulators, and deck tiles.
Flue linings in the ship's funnels often contained asbestos, as would damper insulators in the ventilators. The use of glues and paints containing asbestos was common as well. During maintenance periods, both in the shipyard and alongside a pier, shipyards workers used equipment and materials made from asbestos. The fine dust could collect in non-ventilated areas, unseen nooks and crannies throughout the maze of plumbing, wires, and ductwork that defines a ship’s interior, and be released into to air by normal ship vibration when underway.
Galveston was retired prior to the commencement of any serious asbestos abatement program on existing ships. The asbestos installed in its construction remained, or was replaced by other items made from asbestos, throughout its career.