The USS Columbia (CL-56) was a Cleveland-class light cruiser laid down on August 18, 1940, and launched on December 17, the following year. It was commissioned on July 29, 1942, under Capt. W. A. Heard’s command with the hull number CL-56 and served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years until it was decommissioned on November 30, 1946. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 1,255 people on board and had its main missions in Sydney, Buka, Leyte Gulf, Guam, Bonis, Mindoro, New Georgia, and Efate. After decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on March 1, 1959, and sold for scrapping the same year. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Columbia received 10 battle stars and one Navy Unit Commendation. Exposure to airborne asbestos particles can lead to serious health effects. When the asbestos fibers become airborne, Navy personnel involved in the renovation and repair processes and who directly handled asbestos-based products used on Navy ships, or working below deck prior to the 1980s may inhale small particles. These particles remain in the lungs and, over time, can cause a number of deadly diseases.