USS Leyte CV-32 (1946-1970)
The Leyte was a Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier that weighed in at an astounding 27,100 tons. The carrier was built in 1946 in Newport News, Virginia and was ready for commissioning in April of that year. The first cruise that the Leyte made was along the South American Pacific in late 1946. It then made four deployments to the Mediterranean in the years 1947, 1949 and 1950. These deployments were made during the three years of the Atlantic Fleet operations.
Action in the Korean War
When finished with the last of these tours in August 1950, the Leyte was quickly prepared for yet another. This took the carrier to the other side of the world to augment Naval forces. From October 1950 to January 1951, the Leyte operated off of the Korean coast and provided nearly 4,000 aircraft sorties to the UN forces that were ashore. It was during this cruise that Lieutenant Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., one of Leyte’s aviators, was awarded the Medal of Honor.
After the War
Beginning in February 1951, the Leyte spent the rest of it’s career servicing on the Atlantic. From 1951 to 1953, more Mediterranean deployments were made. In October of 1952, the new designation, CVS- 32, was received. In late 1953, it was again re-designated CVAS- 32 and changed to an anti-submarine warfare support carrier. While undergoing this change in a Boston Naval Shipyard, 37 men were killed and many more injured from an explosion.
Beginning in January 1954 and for the next five years, the carrier returned to the active fleet and conducted anti-submarine operations in the Caribbean and in the Atlantic. Briefly, in 1957, its normal air group was replaced with Marine Corp transport helicopters and the Leyte served as an interim amphibious assault ship.
The Leyte was decommissioned in May 1959. Following the decommission, it was reclassified as an aircraft transport and was given the new hull number AVT-10. In September 1970, after remaining in the reserve fleet for a decade, the Leyte was sold for scrapping.
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.