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USS Bennington (CV-20)

USS Bennington (CV-20)

The USS Bennington (CV-20) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy. One of 24 such carriers built for duty during the Second World War, the Bennington served for more than a quarter-century before she was decommissioned in 1970. The vessel was named in honor of the Battle of Bennington, which took place during the American Revolution in August of 1777.


The Bennington was build at the United State Navy Yard (also known as the New York Naval Shipyard) in Brooklyn between December 1942 and February 1944. The vessel was commissioned in August 1944 under command of Captain J.B. Sykes.

Repairs and Upgrades

In June 1945, Bennington was caught in a typhoon off the coast of Okinawa; the storm resulted in structural damage that required three weeks of repairs at the Leyte Naval Base. In March of 1946, she docked at the Norfolk Naval Base and underwent a major overhaul in preparation for reserve status; the work was completed in November of that year. She was returned to active status and assigned to the New York Naval Shipyard in October of 1950 for upgrades that would allow her to carry and launch the new jet aircraft then coming into use. During the upgrades, the flight deck was enlarged and her guns were replaced.

The work was completed in February 1953, and shakedown trials began. During the trials, a tube in one of the boiler rooms came loose, resulting in an explosion that killed eleven crewmen. A little over a year later, one of the aircraft catapults exploded, resulting in over three hundred casualties. In the wake of this accident, Bennington underwent another extensive refit in the New York Navy Yard between June 1954 and March 1955. Over the course of these repairs, she received two additional upgrades: an angled flight deck and an enclosed hurricane bow.

Following her fourth tour of duty in Vietnam, Bennington spent five months at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard undergoing an overhaul. This work was completed in April of 1969. The carrier was decommissioned in January 1970 and berthed with the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Bremerton, Washington until sold to a shipbreaker in India in January 1994.

Wartime Service

Following her brief shakedown cruise, Bennington was ordered to the Pacific. After reporting to Pearl Harbor in January 1945, the vessel joined TG 58.1 out of the Ulithi Atoll Naval Base and participated in the last push toward the Japanese home islands. After hostilities ceased, the vessel returned to the States, stopping at San Francisco in November before proceeding on to Norfolk.

During the 1950s, Bennington primarily carried out training missions and routine patrols. Aside from the two serious accidents, this was an uneventful time for Bennington. In 1959, Bennington was assigned to Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW duties). During her fourth Far East tour of duty between October 1960 and May 1961, the carrier was on hand to "show the flag" during the Laotian Crisis.

During the 1960s, Bennington was deployed to Vietnam with the 7th Fleet four times and was the recovery vessel for the Apollo 4 mission in 1967. As was typical for many carriers, her air wing saw extensive action and suffered casualties, while the Bennington herself was largely out of harm’s way.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Bennington (CV-20)

The use of asbestos aboard sea-going vessels was required by federal law in the wake of a tragedy that occurred off the New Jersey coast in September of 1934. The passenger liner SS Morro Castle caught fire, killing nearly a fourth of those aboard. From that time until the early 1980s, all naval and civilian ships used asbestos extensively for insulation and fire control. Unfortunately, when asbestos-containing materials such as insulation are damaged or destroyed, the individual asbestos fibers break off and enter the atmosphere, where they can they be breathed in by naval personnel, dock workers, shipfitters, contractors, etc. Inhalation of these fibers has been shown to be the principal cause of asbestos cancer, also known as mesothelioma.

Aboard the Bennington¸ as with other ships of her class, fuel storage facilities and virtually every bulkhead and door used asbestos extensively. Asbestos was found in the highest concentrations in the engine room, where it was used in machinery and as insulation around boilers and pipes. Sailors and workers on Bennington, and their families (who may have been exposed to fibers on clothes and uniforms brought home) are at risk of developing a mesothelioma disease. Because mesothelioma is not generally curable, the typical mesothelioma prognosis is not positive. However, medical science continues to advance every day, and researchers like Dr. Raphael Bueno are working constantly to find new treatments.

Because mesothelioma is a relatively rare, though very serious, disease, information on mesothelioma treatment options is not always widely available or generally known. To assist mesothelioma patients and their loved ones with the difficult decisions and to provide information on the various medical and legal options, we created a Mesothelioma Treatment Guide which is available free of charge. Simply fill in the form on this page and we will mail you the complete information kit right away.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Mann, Raymond, "Bennington II." Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. Updated 6 February 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2010.