Nearly 30 tons, the USS Philippine Sea is a Ticonderoga class carrier. She was built at Quincy, Massachusetts and originally commissioned in 1946. Before her service in the Korean War, her inaugural journey was to the Caribbean Sea. Subsequently, she sailed to much colder climes with her participation in Operation “Highjump,” which was appellation for the 1947 expedition to the Antarctic led by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. This operation, officially called The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program, was a task force that included close to 5,000 men and 13 ships. Its primary mission was to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV, which would consolidate and extend American sovereignty over the largest practical area of the Antarctic continent.
In 1948 and again in 1949, Philippine Sea was sent to the Mediterranean Sea. In the interim of these two voyages, she deployed to the Arctic in late 1948. After more exercises to the Caribbean and the western Atlantic, the USS Philippine Sea sailed through the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet in 1950 for the onset of the Korean War.
Action in Korea
The Philippine Sea supported the United Nations forces in the war as they defended South Korea against invasion from Communist North Korea and China. As that famous war raged north and south over the 38th parallel after General Douglas MacArthur’s famous amphibious landing behind enemy lines at Inchon, the Philippine Sea provided air power support for ten months.
Following her initial deployment, the Philippine Sea returned to the U.S., but made two more combat tours, one in 1952 and the second in 1953, always serving with distinction as the war raged. During this time of her service, the Philippine Sea was renamed CVA-47.
After the War
Once the Korean War ended in 1953, the Philippine Sea continued to serve in the Far East. In March of 1954, her planes shot down two Chinese fighter planes that were attacking her. In 1955, her major usage was converted to anti-submarine warfare; thus, she was redesignated CVS-47. Under that designation, she made two more cruises into waters off of Asia, with the last one completed in 1958. After her long and distinguished service for the U.S., including years in the Pacific Reserve Fleet as an aircraft transport with hull number AVT-11, Philippine Sea was taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1969.
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.