Commissioned in January of 1945, the USS Antietam was a 27,100 ton aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. Originally constructed to assist with operations off the coast of Japan during the waning days of the Second World War, in later years the USS Antietam would help revolutionize the way future aircraft carriers were built and served as a testing vessel for one of the most important adaptations in modern naval history.
World War II and Korea
The USS Antietam would never see active war duty during WWII, however it assisted in post war occupation operations. The USS Antietam remained in far eastern waters throughout the first post war years, until returning to the US during 1949 when it was decommissioned for the first time.
After spending two years as part of the reserve fleet the USS Antietam was recommissioned in early 1951 as a response to the outbreak of the Korean War. The carrier was deployed in late 1951 and spent six months actively involved in the Korean conflict. During the Korean War, the USS Antietam saw its only active combat duty. Throughout the carrier’s time in the Far East, its air group would join in several strategic missions in support of United Nations troops. After four cruises of the South Pacific the USS Antietam would finally return home to begin the next stage of its career.
After the War
The end of the year 1952 would mark the return of the USS Antietam to the Atlantic fleet, where the ship would be the first to undergo a modification that would become an important adaptation. The USS Antietam was the first carrier in the fleet to be refitted with an angled flight deck, and would spend the next several years working as a testing platform for this feature.
After 1953 the carrier was reclassified from an attack aircraft carrier to an antisubmarine vessel. In its new role the USS Antietam would be sent to the Mediterranean, where it operated until 1957 before returning to the US and being converted into a training craft based out of Pensacola, Florida. The ship would operate in this capacity for several years. In the autumn of 1963 the USS Antietam was once more decommissioned, and was for more than a decade part of the US Naval reserve fleet. The ship was finally broken down and sold for scrap in 1974, marking the end of the road for this US Naval vessel.
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.