Named after the city of Birmingham, Alabama, the ship was a Cleveland-class light cruiser laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1941. It served during World War II, activity for which it earned 8 battle stars. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Cooper Green, wife of the president of the Birmingham City Commission, and had Captain John Wilkes in command throughout the conflict. Furthermore, the USS Birmingham also served during the Battle of Okinawa, rejoining the 5th fleet in 1945 and visiting several Australian ports during this time. The presence of asbestos on the ship posed a great health danger to the military personnel serving aboard it, as exposure to this carcinogenic mineral can lead, over 2 to 5 decades, to serious diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. It occurs when a person inhales or ingests the tiny fibers of this mineral. For this reason, veterans who served on the USS Birmingham should keep a close eye on their health by undergoing regular medical examinations. In 1959, the ship was sold for scrap and today, an 8-foot long waterline model of the USS Birmingham can be seen at the Southern Museum of Flight.