Constructed in Newport News, Virginia, the USS Essex was commissioned at the very end of 1942. She was the lead ship in a class of 27,100-ton aircraft carriers. She made her way to the Pacific in May of 1943.
Action in World War II and Korea
She participated in the Markus and Wake Island raids, Japanese target attacks in the Marshalls and the Gilberts invasion for the remainder of 1943. In 1944, she was involved with the Leyte, Marianas, Palaus and Mindoro invasions. She was also active during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. She then provided planes for airstrikes that took place in the Western and Central Pacific.
She was damaged by Kamikazes in November of 1944 off the Philippines. The damage was not great, so she stayed in battle. She continued to help out in 1945, participating in Iwo Jima, the landings at Lingayen Gulf and Okinawa. She then took part in raids in Japanese waters, as well as raiding enemies in other parts of the Western Pacific. Japan then surrendered and she went home, and was deemed out-of-commission in January of 1947.
The Essex was revitalized in the late 1940s and recommissioned in January of 1951 with many modern improvements. She was then deployed to Korea twice after this. These deployments lasted from August of 1951 to March of 1952, and then from July of 1952 to January of 1953. She was the first carrier to use the new F2H “Banshee” jet fighter. The Essex’s number was changed to CVA-9 in 1952. She was deployed to the Western Pacific two more times after the Korean armistice, before undergoing another overhaul.
After the War
After being outfitted for high-performance aircraft, she was released in 1956. She was then again deployed to the Western Pacific and transferred in the middle of 1957 to the Atlantic Fleet. She helped out with the Lebanon intervention in the middle of 1958, then made her way down the Suez Canal and on to the Western Pacific. She was then participating in the Taiwan area. After this, she travelled through the Cape of Good Hope to the Atlantic.
The Essex had a number of further exercises in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and was then overhauled to be an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier. She was redesignated in March of 1960 the CVS-9. For the next ten years she continued exercises in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. She was finally put out-of-commission in June of 1969. The Navy struck the Essex from the Navy Vessel register in 1973. She was then sold for scrap after two years.
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.