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Asbestos on Aircraft Carriers

Aircraft carriers, which are critical for transporting and deploying aircrafts by sea during wartime, were once made with asbestos. Built in the early- to mid-twentieth century, the carriers favored asbestos for its heat-resistant properties. The carriers served in World War II, as well as the Korean War, Vietnam War and Cold War, though some date back as early as 1922 and as late as 2015. Since fires had the potential to occur frequently on these ships, they were typically insulated with asbestos, and some passengers even wore asbestos suits to extract pilots when a fire or crash occurred on the deck.

Because of the wide use of asbestos, veterans who served on these ships were at a high risk of exposure, and as a result, account for about 30% of mesothelioma diagnoses today. Threats of exposure continue from these ships for shipyard workers today, as these World War II ships continue to be retired or repaired for historical purposes.

Name Commissioned Class Status
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) 1989 Nimitz Active
USS America (CV-66) 1965 Kitty Hawk Scuttled
USS Antietam (CV-36) 1945 Essex Scrapped
USS Bataan (CVL-29) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Bennington (CV-20) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Boxer (CV-21) 1945 Essex Scrapped
USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) 1943 Essex Scrapped
USS Cabot (CVL-28) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) 1981 Nimitz Active
USS Constellation (CV-64) 1961 Kitty Hawk To be scuttled
USS Coral Sea (CVB-43) 1947 Midway Scrapped
USS Cowpens (CVL-25) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) 1977 Nimitz Active
USS Enterprise (CV-6) 1938 Yorktown Scrapped
USS Enterprise (CVN-65) 1961 Enterprise Active
USS Essex (CV-9) 1942 Essex Scrapped
USS Forrestal (CV-59) 1955 Forrestal To be scuttled
USS Franklin (CV-13) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) 1945 Midway Scrapped
USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) 2009 Nimitz Active
USS George Washington (CVN-73) 1992 Nimitz Active
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 2015 Ford Keel laid
USS Hancock (CV-19) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) 1998 Nimitz Active
USS Hornet (CV-8) 1941 Yorktown Sunk
USS Hornet (CV-12) 1943 Essex Museum
USS Independence (CVL-22) 1943 Independence Scuttled
USS Independence (CV-62) 1959 Forrestal To be scuttled
USS Intrepid (CV-11) 1943 Essex Museum
USS Iwo Jima (CV-46) Cancelled Essex Cancelled
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) 1995 Nimitz Active
USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) 1968 Kennedy Decommissioned
USS Kearsarge (CV-33) 1946 Essex Scrapped
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) 1961 Kitty Hawk Decommissioned
USS Lake Champlain (CV-39) 1945 Essex Scrapped
USS Langley (CV-1) 1922 Langley Sunk
USS Langley (CVL-27) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Lexington (CV-2) 1927 Lexington Sunk
USS Lexington (CV-16) 1943 Essex Museum
USS Leyte (CV-32) 1946 Essex Scrapped
USS Midway (CVB-41) 1945 Midway Museum
USS Monterey (CVL-26) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) 1975 Nimitz Active
USS Oriskany (CV-34) 1950 Essex Scuttled
USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) 1946 Essex Scrapped
USS Princeton (CVL-23) 1943 Independence Sunk
USS Princeton (CV-37) 1945 Essex Scrapped
USS Randolph (CV-15) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Ranger (CV-4) 1934 Ranger Scrapped
USS Ranger (CV-61) 1957 Forrestal On donation hold
USS Reprisal (CV-35) Cancelled Essex Cancelled
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) 2003 Nimitz Active
USS Saipan (CVL-48) 1946 Saipan Scrapped
USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) 1943 Independence Scrapped
USS Saratoga (CV-3) 1927 Lexington Sunk
USS Saratoga (CV-60) 1956 Forrestal Decommissioned
USS Shangri-la (CV-38) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Tarawa (CV-40) 1945 Essex Scrapped
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) 1986 Nimitz Active
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) 1944 Essex Scrapped
USS Valley Forge (CV-45) 1946 Essex Scrapped
USS Wasp (CV-7) 1940 Wasp Sunk
USS Wasp (CV-18) 1943 Essex Scrapped
USS Wright (CVL-49) 1946 Saipan Scrapped
USS Yorktown (CV-5) 1937 Yorktown Sunk
USS Yorktown (CV-10)) 1943 Essex Museum

Author: Tara Strand

Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand

Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli

Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their Families

Jennifer R. Lucarelli
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Sources

Military.com. Asbestos Illness Related to Military Service. Updated 2018.

Darwin, R, Bowman H, et al. Aircraft Carrier Flight and Hangar Deck Fire Protection: History and Current Status. Updated January 2005.

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