The USS Independence CVL-22 was constructed in Camden, New Jersey in 1943. She was to be the lead ship of nine 11,000 ton small aircraft carriers. She was originally constructed as a light cruiser named the Amsterdam CL-59 and was later converted to a small aircraft carrier. She was commissioned and launched in January of 1943. Her original hull number was CV-22. After shakedown in the Caribbean in July of 1943, the Independence’s hull number was changed to CVL-22, and she promptly joined the Pacific Fleet.
Action in World War II
For the remainder of the year she was quite bust, participating in the seizing of the Gilbert Islands, and also participating in raids on Japanese bases that were located at Rabaul, Marcus and Wake. Operating off the Gilbert Islands on the 20th of November, the Independence sustained damage from a Japanese aerial torpedo. The damage was bad enough that she needed to come home to the United States for some repairs.
After being repaired, the Independence was sent back to the Pacific in July of 1944. Once there, she was trained to be a night carrier. In September of 1944, she was part of the Palaus operation. In October, she provided planes for air strikes for the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in Okinawa and the Philippines. From November of 1944 to January of 1945 she participated in numerous operations all over the Western Pacific. After this, she received an upgrade and repairs.
In March of 1945, she was then sent to join the fast carrier task force. From April to September of 1945, she was a part of strikes against Japanese Home Islands, and also participated in the Ryukyus campaign. After Japan’s surrender in the middle of August of 1945, the Independence helped with occupation efforts and carried US troops home. This effort was titled Operation Magic Carpet.
After the War
Next, in 1946, the Independence helped out with atomic bomb testing at Bikini. As a target during these tests, she sustained air burst damage on July 1st, 1946, and was then contaminated by radioactive materials in an underwater test that occurred on July 25th of that same year. The next month, August of 1946, she was put out of commission. Later she was used by the military for radiological testing. Finally, in January of 1951, the military sunk the Independence when using her as a target.
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.