The USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a Portland-class heavy cruiser laid down on March 31, 1930, and launched on November 7, the following year. It was commissioned on November 15, 1932, under Capt. John M. Smeallie’s command as CA-35 and served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years until it was sunk by torpedoes on July 30, 1945. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 1,269 people during wartime and 4 aircraft onboard and had its main missions in New Jersey, Ulithi, Pearl Harbor, Guantanamo Bay, Kyushu, and Okinawa. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Indianapolis received 10 battle stars.
Asbestos played a major role in the shipbuilding industry for decades, and vulnerability to the hazardous material remains a risk to Navy veterans. Asbestos-containing products were commonly used aboard many Navy ships from the 1930s through the 1970s. Because the effects of exposure to asbestos may not be seen for 10 to 40 years, Navy veterans are just now having their conditions diagnosed.