The USS Mobile—a Charleston-class amphibious cargo ship—was the third vessel of five to be constructed in this series. In commission serving her country for 24 years and 4 months, the USS Mobile was the fourth ship of the US Navy’s fleet to be named in honor of the city of Mobile located in southwestern Alabama.
The USS Mobile was laid down at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company (Newport News, Virginia) on January 15, 1968 as an attack transport ship—AKA-115. Sponsored by Mrs. John Sparkman, wife of the Alabama Senator, Mobile was launched approximately nine months later on October 19, 1968. Prior to being commissioned on September 20, 1969, the USS Mobile was redesignated as an amphibious cargo ship (LKA-115) on January 1, 1969.
The USS Mobile measured 575 feet, 6 inches in length and displaced 18,600 tons (full load). Powered by two boilers working in conjunction with one geared turbine and one propeller shaft, Mobile was capable of achieving speeds in excess of 20 knots. This vessel’s original installment of weaponry consisted of four twin three-inch/50-caliber guns which were later updated with two Phalanx close-in-weapons-systems (CIWS). Her aircraft and marine capabilities were supported by the inclusion of a helicopter landing platform on her stern and 18 landing craft mechanized or landing craft mechanicals (LCM-6s and LCM-8s) on board to transport troops and equipment ashore. The USS Mobile employed a crew numbering approximately 356 men—22 officers and 334 enlisted. She possessed the capacity to transport an additional 15 officers and 200+ enlisted men from the US Marine Corps.
At the onset of her career, the USS Mobile became an active participant and supporter of US efforts during the Vietnam War. Over a period extending beyond five years, the USS Mobile was involved in numerous operations relative to amphibious assaults. Her most notorious contribution was her involvement in Operation Frequent Wind as she assisted with the evacuation of approximately 7,000 Americans and Vietnamese from Saigon during the final days of the War (April 29-30, 1975).
During the decade of the 1980s, the USS Mobile spent the majority of her time conducting numerous operations in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Mobile’s participation in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm ensued beginning in December of 1990 and lasting through September of 1991. On January 12, 1991, the USS Mobile arrived for active duty in the North Arabian Sea where she served as a member of an 18-vessel amphibious task force. This assembly was believed to be the largest of its kind since the Korean War.
The USS Mobile was decommissioned on February 4, 1994. At this time, she had as many as 15 awards to her credit for her outstanding service to her country. Among these were the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, two National Defense Service Medals, three Navy Battle “E” Ribbons, and the Vietnam Service Medal (with the addition of four campaign stars), to name a few.
At the present time, the USS Mobile remains on inactive reserve status at the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility (NISMF) located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Mobile (AKA-115/LKA-115)
Roaming the Western Pacific and conducting operations in the waters off the coast of Vietnam, in the Indian Ocean, and the Persian Gulf, the USS Mobile embarked as many as 500+ individuals at one time, including crew members and additional Marine Corps troops, as she dutifully carried out her missions. Each and every individual who boarded this ship would disembark as a potential victim of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos products—gaskets, valves, insulation materials, adhesives, cables, oils, and paints, to name a few—were utilized to a great extent aboard US Navy ships, such as the USS Mobile. Once revered as a “wonder product” whose heat-, fire- and chemical-resistant properties were beyond compare, asbestos would come to light in later years as a human carcinogen.
The extensive industrial use of asbestos by the shipbuilding industry, in particular from the 1930s through the 1970s, has resulted in a significant loss of human life by means of asbestos-related illnesses—asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Current mortality trends show that nearly 10,000 human lives are lost each year as a direct result of a disease associated with prior exposure to asbestos. As these diseases possess extended latency periods ranging from 20 to 50 years, asbestos-related deaths are not anticipated to peak until the year 2020. Furthermore, mortality trends relative to asbestos-related diseases are predicted to remain steady or even rise as asbestos remains at large as a material in old structures and maritime vessels and as its use, while limited, continues to be permitted.
Asbestos exposure can significantly impact your health and may even produce a fatal outcome. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma please consult our website for the most up-to-date listing of practitioners and medical centers in your area that specialize in asbestos-related diseases and information regarding current treatment options. In addition, our website can connect you with legal experts that can guide you through the process of obtaining financial compensation from the companies who produced the asbestos products that likely contributed to the development of your disease and the consequential suffering that victims endure.Sources
Wikipedia–USS Mobile (LKA-115/AKA-115)
NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive
Naval Cover Museum