The USS Midway was the first ship to be launched out of three of the 45,000 ton aircraft carriers. She was built in Newport News, Virginia and was commissioned in late 1945. She had a shakedown cruise to start the career of this ship off with and that started the next eight years of service with the Atlantic Fleet.
During early 1946 the Midway cruised up to the Arctic Ocean for cold weather operations. Her flight deck served as an experiment again the following year as the Americans launched an ex-German V-2 missile off the deck. During her service she was deployed into many different NATO operations including one called Mainbrace. She was also redesignated as an attack aircraft carrier and renumbered at the same time.
Action in Vietnam and the Middle East
In 1954 the Midway left the Atlantic Fleet and steamed past the Cape of Good Hope to join the Seventh Fleet in the Far East. In 1955 she underwent some extensive modernization and would take two years to complete that work. She emerged with an angled flight deck, an enclosed bow, and three of the steam catapults that allowed her to launch some of the higher performance aircraft.
During the next eight years she ended up becoming a regular visitor to the Asian waters and in 1965 she participated in the growing Vietnam War. However, she again had to head back to the docks to have modernization carried out again and would not return to the seas until the 1970s.
After she returned to active service she set sail again for Southeast Asia for combat operations. In 1973 she was spending so much time in Asia that her home port was changed to Yokosuka, Japan which allowed the Navy to have a higher presence in Asia. She again receivfe a refit in 1986, but would be ready to take up another active duty station during “Desert Shield” and “Desert Storm.”
After the War
Finally in 1992 the ship returned to the United States for the first time in 18 years. She was stricken from the Register in 1997, but she would have new life breathed into her as a museum in San Diego, California, and has become a popular attraction.
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.