The USS Chicago (CA-136/CG-11) was a Baltimore-class cruiser laid down on 28 July 1943 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, by the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Launched on 20 August 1944, the ship was sponsored by Mrs. Edward J. Kelly, wife of the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 10 January 1945, with Captain Richard R. Hartung, USN, in command. The cruiser departed the Chesapeake Bay on 12 March after performing training exercises and calibrating its compasses. It conducted shakedown training and shore bombardment exercises off Culebra, Puerto Rico, before returning to Norfolk on 11 April 1944. In 1972, the cruiser was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam Service, the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, and an eighth straight "E" for missilery excellence. The majority of the pipelines that transported steam or water throughout the ship were unprotected. Asbestos was used to insulate these pipes, so if they were disturbed, asbestos fibers might become airborne. These pipes were located throughout the ship, including the mess hall and the sailors' sleeping quarters. As the pipe-covering crumbled due to age and wear, asbestos fibers sloughed off and became airborne, where they were readily inhaled or swallowed by the crew.