USS Baedong Strait CVE-116
USS Baedoeng Strait was one of the numerous Commencement Bay class escort carriers built between 1943 and 1945 as part of the explosive expansion of the US Navy during World War II. There were originally 33 ships in the class, but only 18 were completed. One ship, USS Tinian (CVE-123) was completed but never placed in service.
The Baedoeng Strait was built at Todd-Pacific Shipyards in Tacoma, Washington. She was launched on February 15th, 1945 and placed in commission on November 14th of that same year. The ship was named after a passage between the islands of Bali and Nusa Besar in Indonesia, the site of a battle between the Japanese navy and a combined US-Netherlands force in 1942.
Commencement Bay class CVEs were based on the successful US Maritime Commission T-3 tanker hull, displacing 10,900 tons standard. They were 557 feet long, and 105 feet, 2 inches wide at the flight deck level, drawing 30 feet 8 inches fully loaded. As a typical member of the class, the Baedoeng Strait was capable of 19 knots, and was armed with two 5”/38 dual purpose guns, thirty six 40mm and twenty 20mm antiaircraft guns and 34 aircraft. Her complement was 1,066 officers and men.
Action in Korea
Since the Pacific War was over by the time she was commissioned, the USS Baedoeng Strait was put into mothballs shortly after her commissioning in April, 1946. She was recommissioned in January, 1947 and played a role in anti-submarine warfare, acting as the flagship of Carrier Divisions 15 and 17 during this time. The outbreak of war in the Korean peninsula in 1950 put the Baedoeng Strait to work in anti-submarine, blockade and close-air support roles, serving three different tours between 1950 and 1953. She was modernized after her third tour in 1953, taking part in experimental work with helicopters and new naval aircraft.
After the War
In 1957, USS Baedoeng Strait was chosen for inactivation. She was decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington on May 17, 1957 and was redesignated an aircraft transport, given the hull number AKV-16 in 1959, but not activated for service. She had one last time in the limelight before her scrapping in 1972, however, as the stage set for the final scenes of the Clint Eastwood movie Magnum Force.
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.