USS Bairoko CVE-115 (1945-1960)
The USS Bairoko was constructed in Tacoma, Washington and commissioned in July of 1945. It was a Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carrier and it weighed 10,300 tons. Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carriers were based on the Maritime Commission T3 type tanker hull, which gave a displacement of 23,000 tons and a length of 557 feet. Unlike earlier models, instead of being converted to a carrier, these models were carriers from the hull up.
Action in World War II and Korea
She saw action all over the Pacific for her whole career. From October of 1945 through January of 1946 the Bairoko made her way to the Far East. She then took part in the Bikini atomic bomb tests in the middle of 1946. After this, in February of 1947, she made her way back to the Far East. The Bairoko was taken out-of-commission in 1950 in April. She was only out-of-service for a little while, and was re-commissioned in September of 1950 for the Korean War.
Bairoko helped transport aircraft to the warzone from November to December of 1950. She stuck around in Korea until August of 1951, helping to support UN forces on shore, and providing anti-submarine planes to patrol for Soviet submarines that wanted to intervene in the Korean War. In May of 1951, she suffered her first damage, but it was not bad enough to take her out-of-action. There were casualties and a fire from an explosion, but she stayed in Korea.
She participated in two more Korean wartime tours, the first from December of 1951 to June of 1952, the second from February to August of 1953. She helped next during the nuclear weapons tests in early 1954 in the mid-Pacific. After this, the Bairoko took part in some routine operations off the west coast of the United States.
After the War
In February of 1955, she was prepared for inactivation and finally decommissioned. The Bairoko was then reclassified as an aircraft transport in May of 1959. Finally, her number was changed to AKV-15, but she saw no more action. She was then sold for scrap in August of 1960 after a somewhat short-lived but important career.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, even today, aircraft carriers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.