The USS San Jacinto was a small aircraft carrier of the Independence class built in Camden, New Jersey. She actually started off as a light cruiser, but was quickly converted to be a carrier before she was launched. She was commissioned in 1943 and had to take a shakedown cruise which took place in the Caribbean Sea.
Action in World War II
She ended up joining the Pacific Fleet in time to partake in the combat action of the Marianas operation and in the Battle of Philippine Sea. During the summer months her planes helped to strike at targets in the Palaus, the Bonins and the Carolines Island chains. She then headed on to participate in the raids on Formosa, Okinawa, and the Philippines themselves. She would also partake in the great naval battle of Leyte Gulf. Following that battle, she was part of the groups that kept the pressure on the Japanese forces by staging offensive attacks in the Western Pacific, South China Sea and other strategic locations.
In early 1945 the San Jacinto’s planes brought the war home to the Japanese Home Island by launching strikes against them on two separate occasions. However, she also assisted in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After Okinawa she stayed off the coast for the next three months and battled suicide planes. She also helped to destroy what remained of the Japanese surface ships during World War II. After completing that task she struck again at targets inside of Japan and remained in the area all the way to the last few days of the War.
After the War
San Jacinto returned to the United States shortly after World War II ended. She would remain relatively inactive after returning to the states and would end up being decommissioned in March of 1947. Being in the Reserve Fleet she got a new life and hull and was changed into an aircraft transport ship. However, she never made it out of mothballs and was scrapped in December of 1971, bringing to end the life of a carrier that started off as a light cruiser.
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.