The USS Valley Forge weighed in at 27,100 tons. This Essex class aircraft carrier was built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1944 on the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It was launched in 1945, sponsored by the wife of a commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1947, it was transferred to the Pacific fleet and in 1948, the Valley Forge was making its way to Australia, the Far East, and eventually it made its way around the rest of the world.
Action in the Korean War
In May 1950, the aircraft carrier took to the Western Pacific, being the only U.S aircraft carrier in that region in June when North Korea began the Korean War. The Valley Forge launched the first U.S Navy airstrikes onto enemy troops and after continued combat, was sent back to port in the United States.
From 1951 to 1953, the Valley Forge was involved in Korean War operations, making four separate combat tours. In October of 1952, it was reclassified as the CVA-45. Unfortunately, it was unable to handle the new heavier jet aircrafts after the Korean War era, and in January 1954, it was reclassified as the CVS-45, an anti-submarine warfare support carrier (ASW). The CVS-45 continued operating in the Atlantic for seven more years.
Action in the Vietnam War
In June of 1961, the Valley Forge was reclassified once more as the LPH-8, and was given a new mission that would station it in the Pacific for the rest of its career. The submarine assault ship carried helicopter Marines and made five more trips to the Far East. From 1965 to 1969, the Valley Forge spent most of its time on combat missions near Vietnam and was finally retired in January 1970. In October 1971 the USS Valley Forge was sold for scrapping.
The Valley Forge was awarded eight battle stars for service in the Korean War and nine more for service in the Vietnam War. It also received a Navy Unit Commendation in regard to its heroism as a warship for the U.S Marine Corps. Out of all of its sister ships, the Valley Forge was the only ship to remain in its World War II form without being majorly modified, thus retaining its classic appearance.
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.