USS Coral Sea CV-43 (1947-1993)
The construction of the USS Coral Sea was completed in 1947, at Newport News, Virginia. The 45,000 ton aircraft carrier was commissioned for duty on October 1, 1947. During the summer of 1948, after serving duty in the western Atlantic, the Coral Sea participated in a midshipman training operation in the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas.
Action in the Cold War and Vietnam
In May of 1949, she commenced the first of more than a dozen Sixth Fleet cruises. These deployments occurred almost every year during the 1950s, as the Cold War deepened. The missions included a routine “showing of the flag,” as well as nuclear deterrent activities along the southern edge of Europe. In October of 1952, the vessel was reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier, and her hull number was changed to CVA-43. Culminating the first phase of her lengthy service, the Coral Sea cruised to the western seaboard and underwent a complete overhaul in February-April of 1957.
The Coral Sea returned to active duty in January of 1960. She was equipped with an expanded flight deck, several aircraft elevators, and three heavy steam catapults. Late in 1960, the Coral Sea transited the Pacific for the first of 12 Seventh Fleet operations. In the course of these deployments, she took part in the Southeast Asian conflict between 1965 and 1972, and assisted in the evacuation of civilians when the Republic of Vietnam folded in 1975. At the end of June, 1975, the vessel was reclassified CV-43 to indicate the extension of her air group to incorporate anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
After the War
The Coral Sea was again deployed to the western Pacific in 1979, for duty in the Persian Gulf area. In April 1980, the Coral Sea provided support for the unsuccessful attempt to free American hostages held captive in Iran. The vessel cruised to the Far East one more time and also served in the Arabian Sea, the Mediterranean, and off the coasts of South and Central America. Her last and longest deployment ended in September of 1983.
The Coral Sea returned to the Mediterranean in the spring of 1986. In April, she unleashed an air attack against terrorist targets in Libya. The USS Coral Sea took part in two more operations between 1987 and 1989. She was discharged in April of 1990, sold in 1993, and dismantled for scrap metal during the next few years.
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.