The USS Chicago (CL/CA-29) was a Northampton-class cruiser laid down on September 10, 1928, and launched on April 10, 1930. It was commissioned on March 9, the following year under Capt. Manley Hale Simons’ command as CA-29 and served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years until it sank in the Battle of Rennell Island on January 30, 1943. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 691 people on board and had its main missions in San Francisco, Alaska, Honolulu, Guadalcanal, Sydney, Tulagi, Noumea, and Salamaua. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Chicago received 3 battle stars.
Asbestos was used frequently for the insulation of pipes, boilers, electrical fixtures, and hull construction. The worst areas on Navy ships were in the fire, pump, and engine rooms where asbestos insulation covered the pipes and wiring. Some of the personnel most at risk include boiler tenders, electrician's mates, enginemen, pipefitters, machinists, water tenders, steamfitters, and fire control technicians.