The USS Shangri-La was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia. This 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier was commissioned in September 1944.
Action in World War II
Early the next year she was sent to the Pacific to assist in the war with Japan. Her first combat operation was an attack on Okino Daito Jima in late April of 1945. Over the next four months, she served as the flagship of Task Forces 38 and 58 as she attacked Okinawa and other Japanese islands. Even after the Japanese surrender, she remained in the area until October of 1945.
In the following two years she steamed to Australia and also participated in Operation “Crossroads” that did atomic bomb testing. In November of 1947 the ship was decommissioned. She was then placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
After the War
In May 1951 the USS Shangri-La was recommissioned. She was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet until November 1952. At that time she was slated to receive an overhaul and was thus decommissioned. Once the ship was modernized, she was reclassified as a CVA-38 and was recommissioned at the beginning of 1955. The renovation of the Shangri-La resulted in major changes with a new angled flight deck and island, steam catapults, enclosed bow, and other updates.
Shangri-La spent the years from 1955 to 1960 with the Pacific Fleet, going to the Far East several times with the Seventh Fleet. The ship was sent to the Atlantic in March of 1960 and then was sent to the Mediterranean the following year. The ship was reclassified as a CVS-38 in mid-1969 so that she could support anti-submarine warfare. In 1970 the Shangri-La cruised from the south Atlantic, through the Indian Ocean, to join forces in Vietnam. She remained in this capacity until 1971.
The USS Shangri-La was sent back to the eastern coast of the U.S. in July 1971 and was docked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The final decommission of the ship took place in July 1982. She was used for several years to supply spare parts for the training carrier Lexington. She was finally scrapped in August of 1988 and towed to Taiwan.
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.