USS Princeton CVL-23 (1943-1944)
The USS Princeton was an Independence class small aircraft carrier that operated in the Pacific during World War II. The carrier, an 11,000 ton vessel, was built in Camden, New Jersey, originally as a light cruiser. It was commissioned in 1943, and immediately went into testing and training in the Atlantic.
Action in World War II
The Princeton was then sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to be a part of the Pacific Theater of War. The vessel arrived at Pearl Harbor in August of 1943, and immediately saw action. It was a part of the occupation of Baker Island, providing covering support for the troops that took and held the island.
The Baker Island operation took place from August to September 1943, and in September the USS Princeton moved on to another operation, this time raiding Makin and Tarawa, two strongholds where the aircraft carrier saw combat. In November of that same year, the USS Princeton supported the Bougainville landing, raided Rabaul and Nauru, and helped in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.
Following these sorties, the USS Princeton went stateside for repairs and a mechanical overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. In January and February of 1944, the USS Princeton was back in the Pacific, aiding in the conquest of the Marshall Islands. The planes that called the Princeton home were later involved in attacking numerous Japanese targets and supporting various amphibious landings in places like Holland, New Guinea.
In June of 1944, the USS Princeton aided in the invasion of Saipan and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In July, the vessel participated in the Marianas operation and joined raids on Palaus, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa. In October of 1944, barely over a year after her commission, the USS Princeton was off the northern coast of the Philippines supporting the Leyte invasion. AJapanese dive-bomber struck the vessel, setting her ablaze, and later setting off a weapons magazine. Her escorts were forced to sink her.
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.