U.S.S. Cleveland (LPD-7)

Cleveland was an Austin-class amphibious transport dock. She served in the Viet Nam War and the first Gulf War.

Construction

Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, MS laid her down on 30 November 1964. She was commissioned on 21 April 1967.

Service

Cleveland sailed from Pearl Harbor for Viet Nam, arriving at Da Nang on 13 November 1967. There, she joined Amphibious Ready Group Alfa and began supporting Marine operations ashore. On 9 December, two of her LCM landing craft were fitted out for psychological warfare and she transported them up the Cua Viet River. Her first tour “in country” concluded with cargo runs up and down the coast. She redeployed in January 1968 and began more cargo operations, ferrying supplies and equipment to forces ashore and returning damaged or worn equipment and vehicles to bases in the Pacific.

She was at Da Nang during the Tet Offensive in February and stepped up operations in the area. On 15 April, her Medical officer and two hospital men were sent ashore to aid villagers. Six days later, she rescued the crew of an F-4 Phantom fighter, one of whom was from her namesake city.

Cleveland deployed regularly to Viet Nam until the end of U.S. military operations in 1973. She continued to operate closely with forces on land, frequently sending her medical staff to aid U.S. and Vietnamese personnel. The ship also took aboard wounded soldiers and marines and continued to transport supplies.

After Viet Nam, Cleveland returned to regular operations in the Pacific Fleet. In January 1988, she became temporary flagship of the Third Fleet. In 1989, she sailed for Alaska to assist in clean up efforts following the Exxon Valdez disaster. She sailed for the Persian Gulf in 1990 for the first Gulf War. After serving in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the ship was called to Central America for drug interdiction operations. In march 1993, she became the first ship of her type to operate the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. In 1994, she sailed to Rwanda as part of the UN peacekeeping operations during the violent genocide there.

Cleveland sailed in February 2000 to assist recovery efforts for Alaska Airlines Flight 261, which crashed off the coast of California. For the last ten years of her service, she made regular deployments with the Pacific fleet from her homeport at San Diego.

Fate

Originally, the ship was scheduled for transfer to Mexico, but talks fell through and she was instead decommissioned on 30 September 2011. As of 2012, she remains in reserve.

In Media

In 1978, she was conducting exercises off Korea. These were filmed and later used in the movie Inchon about the Korean War.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Cleveland was a steamship built in the 1960s. At this time, navy regulations were still in place that required all steam-powered vessels to be insulated with asbestos.

When damaged or worn, asbestos products break down into tiny fibers. Inhalation of these fibers is a proven cause of mesothelioma, a malignant lung cancer. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but treatments like chemotherapy can be used to fight the disease. If you or someone you know served aboard Cleveland or worked on her in a shipyard and has contracted mesothelioma, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page to receive free information regarding your rights to compensation.

Resources/Further Reading

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