The USS Franklin is an Essex class aircraft carrier that weighs 27,100 tons. It was built in Newport News, Virginia and commissioned by January of 1944.
Action in World War II
The Franklin entered the Pacific Theater in time to assist in the advanced stages of the United States’ Marianas operation. From June through September, the Franklin’s plans conducted numerous strikes on targets in Marianas, the Bonins, Palaus, and the Carolines. Following its provision of September’s landings on the Palaus, the Franklin participated in the raids of the Third Fleet that took place during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the western part of the Pacific. The ship was barely damaged by the Japanese bomb that exploded on the fifteenth of October. It was also hit by a plane flying a suicide mission on the thirtieth of October. This resulted in serious damage that killed fifty-six crew members, which necessitated the trip back to America’s shores to receive repairs.
The Franklin returned in the middle of March, 1945. It joined the United States’ Fifth Fleet and aided in the strikes that were carried out against the home islands of the Japanese. A Japanese aircraft approached the Franklin undetected on the morning of the nineteenth of March. It was able to hit the aircraft carrier, which had hanger and flight decks full of fully fueled and armed planes, with two bombs. The result of this attack was an inferno that caused immense damage to the vessel and caused seven hundred and twenty-four deaths. The heroic work of the survivors, who were assisted by ships that were near, was able to bring the flooding and fires under control. Following a short period of being towed, the engineers were able to get the Franklin back up and steaming along under her own power.
After the War
The terribly damaged aircraft carrier traversed the Pacific and crossed through the Panama Canal in the last half of April and pulled into New York’s Navy Yard to receive the much-needed repairs. The Franklin was decommissioned during the month of February, 1947. Although it was reclassified as a CVA-13 in the year 1952, a CVS-13 in the year 1953, and an AVT-8 in the year 1959, the Franklin remained part of the Navy’s Reserve Fleet for many years. In October of 1964, it was finally stricken off of the Naval Vessel Register. In July of 1966, she got sold off for scrap metal.
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.