The USS Ranger (CVA-61) was commissioned in August of 1957 in Newport News, Virginia. Weighing in at 56,300 tons, she was a Forrestal class aircraft carrier, built for the US Navy. The first trip she made was in the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans. Mid-summer in 1958, she traveled around Cape Horn and entered into the Pacific Ocean. This is where she remained for nearly the rest of her Navy career.
Action in Vietnam and the Middle East
The USS Ranger was used in the beginning of more than twenty deployments across the Pacific operating with the Seventh Fleet in 1965. During this service, she began Vietnam War operations. From 1965 to 1973 when the US role in fighting slowed down, she made six trips into the war zone supplying significant air power to the US Navy used on both North and South Vietnam. With her, she brought A-7A Corsair II attack planes which were used in combat.
After the war had ended, the Ranger continued to visit into the Pacific Ocean and into the Indian Ocean after conflict ceased in Southeast Asia. In June of 1975, the Ranger was reassigned from being classified as an attack aircraft carrier into a general purpose aircraft carrier. It was during this time that helicopters and anti-submarine planes were added to her air group.
From 1980-1981, the Ranger was deployed into the Arabian Sea when Iran took US diplomatic personnel hostage. In 1987, she deployed her planes into the Persian Gulf in an effort to protect the Kuwaiti oil tankers which were transferred to the US during the time of the war between Iraq and Iran.
In late 1990 through 1991 the Ranger made a return to the Persian Gulf to take place in the Desert Storm fight and aided in driving the Iraq army out of Kuwait. During operations Southern Watch and Restore Hope, which took place in the middle of 1992, the Ranger helped to carry planes over to Iraq. This was the Ranger’s last deployment and helped to enforce sanctions in opposition to Iraq’s brutal government.
After the War
Currently residing at the Reserve Fleet located in Bremerton, Washington, the USS Ranger was decommissioned in July 1993. Ranger was the only ship in her group of four that did not receive the Service Life Extension Program or SLEP renovation during the 80’s.
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.