USS Lexington CV-16 (1943-1992)

The USS Lexington is an Essex class aircraft carrier that was constructed in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Action in World War II

She was launched in 1943 and took part in combat operations later on that year in Tarawa and Wake. Then she would move on to fight in the seizure of the Gilbert Islands and to help batter down the Japanese forces that were present in the Marshall Islands. However, she did not avoid damage and during attacks she was launching on Kawjalein, she was torpedoed and had to have two months of shipyard repairs.

By early 1944 she was back into the war front and managed to take part in some of the raids in the Central Pacific and New Guinea. In June of that year she was part of the major carrier force that helped take the Marianas invasion and Battle of the Philippine Sea. For the rest of 1944 the Lexington would continue making strikes on the Japanese navy in the area, but she would be damaged by suicide bombers, though thankfully the damage was able to be repaired locally.

After helping with raids on the Japanese home islands, the Lexington had to be overhauled on the West Coast and returned to combat for the final two months of WWII. After the surrender of Japan she would remain in the Pacific to help with the occupation effort. The carrier would return stateside in December of 1945 and be decommissioned in Bremerton, Washington, in 1947.

After the War

The Navy decided to bring the Lexington out of mothballs after six years and provide her with extensive modernization that was finished in 1955. After she had that work done she was recommissioned as an attack carrier. Now she had the more modern angled flight deck, steam catapults, and other improvements that would allow it to launch the modern aircraft. She would sail five times to the Western Pacific before being transferred to the Atlantic fleet in 1962. She was slated to become a training carrier, but had to remain as an attack carrier for a few more months because of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

During the next thirty years the Lexington would serve as the training carrier for the naval aviators. However, she was decommissioned in November of 1991. She was sold to a private organization and was converted into a museum ship that is based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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.

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