The USS Wasp, weighing 27,100 tons, was an Essex class aircraft carrier constructed in Quincy, Massachusetts. It was commissioned on November 24, 1943. The vessel arrived in the Pacific in March of 1944 and saw its first combat mission in May of 1944.
Action in World War II
The USS Wasp was a part of the Marinas Campaign from June to August of 1944, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea and other strikes in the central Pacific region. This was followed by assistance with the September assault on the Palaus. In October, the USS Wasp participated in attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and Formosa, and served in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
During the remainder of 1944 and heading into January of 1945, the Wasp served as a launching pad for planes against Japan in the Philippines, the area of the South China Sea and the Ryukyus. In February and March of 1945, the Wasp supported the Iwo Jima invasion and participated in raids on Japan’s home islands. On March 19, 1945, the Wasp received a hit by a bomb while off of the coast of Japan. The attack resulted in several casualties, but the ship remained in action for several months after the attack before being sent back to the United States for repairs.
The USS Wasp returned to the western Pacific in July of 1945 and was part of the final air attacks on Japan. Following Japan’s surrender, the Wasp served as part of occupation efforts. The Wasp had sustained serious damage from a typhoon in August of 1945, but continued to serve in the area before returning to the U.S. in October of 1945 and became decommissioned in February of 1947.
After the War
By the middle of 1948, the Wasp was being modernized to allow for heavier modern aircraft. It was recommissioned in September of 1951. This time the vessel joined the Atlantic Fleet. The ship was redesignated CVA-18 in October of 1952. It was transferred to the Pacific in September of 1953 and deployed to the waters of Asia from 1953 through 1955. After receiving another modernization, the Wasp returned to the Pacific in 1956.
During the next decade and a half, the Wasp performed training and related operations and was a recovery ship for several manned space flights. The Wasp served in final exercises in the fall of 1971 and was decommissioned in July of 1972 and sold for scrap in May of 1973.
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.