The USS Kearsarge was an American Ticonderoga class carrier. Built in the New York Naval yard, the ship was commissioned in the March of 1946, as part of naval post-WWII modernization. Throughout its career the ship would see active duty in both the Korean, and Vietnam wars. In later years the ship would be used for everything from training missions to assistance in the space program, before being scrapped in February of 1974.
After being commissioned in 1946 the ship would spend its first five years of service in the West Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, working as a training vessel. During this time the ship also made two trips to Europe, the first in 1947 as a training mission, and a cruise of the Mediterranean in 1948. By early 1950 the ship was sent to the west coast, where it would be decommissioned and received significant modernization work.
Action in Korea and Vietnam
The outbreak of the Korean War would necessitate the recommissioning of the USS Kearsarge. Equipped with an improved flight deck, island, and several other significant modifications, the ship made its first tour in 1952-1953. During this time the ship was also reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier. From 1953 through 1958 the USS Kearsarge would operate as part of the Seventh Fleet, stationed in the Far East. During 1955 the USS Kearsarge assisted with the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands. In 1956 the ship once more received modernization, being equipped with an improved flight deck to allow the operation of more advanced aircraft.
In the autumn of 1958 the ship was reclassified as an antisubmarine war ship and was given a compliment of fixed wing aircraft, as well as helicopters to help protect the fleet from underwater attacks. The ship would also go on to see indirect action during the Vietnam War.
After the War
By the early 1960’s the ship found a new role and served as the recovery vessel for the flights of orbital astronauts. The ship would serve in this capacity in 1962 and 1963. In 1970 the ship was decommissioned for the last time, and in 1974 it was finally disassembled and sold for scrap.
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.