The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier serving in the US Navy during WWII. The seventh of eight US Naval vessels to bear the name, Enterprise was commissioned in May 1938.
As the hull number indicates, the Enterprise was the sixth aircraft carrier ordered by the US Navy, but only the third to be constructed from the keel up for this specific purpose. Ordered in 1933, the keel was laid at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company in July 1934. Construction took over two years; the finished carrier hit the water for the first time in October 1936.
Fully loaded, the vessel initially displaced 25,500 tons when fully loaded and measured just under 825 feet in length at the flight deck. She was powered by four Parsons geared turbines, and had nine boilers constructed by Babcock & Wilcox. At the outbreak of WWII, she carried a crew compliment of over 2200 officers and seamen.
Repairs and Upgrades
Even seventy years ago, aircraft carriers were extremely complex and required frequent maintenance as well as upgrades; constant technological advances in aviation and sensor technology necessitated regular yard periods.
Enterprise was among the first naval vessels to be equipped with the RCA CXAM-1 radar, which enabled the detection of enemy planes and vessels at ranges of up to 76 miles.
Following the Battle of Midway, Enterprise put into Pearl Harbor for a month-long overhaul (13 June – 15 July 1942). Her next regularly-scheduled maintenance period took place at the Puget Sound Naval Yard in Bremerton, Washington between July and November 1943. During this time, the vessel was outfitted with an anti-torpedo blister.
Enterprise was also laid up several times for the repair of battle damage.
The World War II-era Enterprise was part of nearly every major campaign against the Japanese Empire, participating in more combat operations than any other naval vessel. Ultimately, she earned a total of 20 battle stars for her role in the Battles of Midway, the Solomons, Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal, Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. Interestingly, she was reported sunk by the Japanese on three separate occasions, but was in fact one of three pre-war carriers to survive the conflict.
Enterprise' s airmen were also noteworthy for their support of Lt. Col. James Doolittle's retaliatory raid on the Japanese mainland, which was launched from the deck of the USS Hornet on 18 April 1942.
Enterprise was decommissioned at the New York Naval Shipyard in February 1947, where she remained until sold to the Lipsett Corporation for scrap in 1958.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Enterprise (CV-6)
As one of the most active combat vessels in the Pacific Theater during WWII, Enterprise suffered frequent and extensive battle damage on several occasions that exacerbated asbestos exposure hazards.
During the invasion of the Solomons in July 1942, Enterprise suffered three direct hits off Guadalcanal. On 26 October during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Enterprise was hit by two bombs, damaging her forward elevator and starboard hull and causing a leak in an oil tank. Repairs continued through the first week of November even as the carrier was forced back into action. During the final months of the war, Enterprise was struck once by a bomb and twice by kamikaze suicide pilots. The bomb hit and the kamikaze strike forced her back to a repair facility on Ulithi in March and April of 1945; a second kamikaze strike on 14 May took out her forward elevator, ending the war for the battered, aging carrier. She arrived at the Puget Sound Naval Yard in June 1945, remaining there for the duration.
Installing asbestos insulation in the construction of naval ships was ordered by law in the United States in the early 1930s, after a deadly fire on the SS Morro Castle caused the deaths of 137 passengers and crew. After scientific research conclusively showed that asbestos insulation posed a major health concern to everyone working with it, the Navy began finding substitutes for the installation of this substance in ships and shore installations, and by end of the 1970s asbestos was not often used. Enterprise made use of asbestos-containing materials heavily, especially in ship's boilers and engine spaces, as well as for fireproofing throughout the ship.
When asbestos insulation is damaged it can become friable, meaning that individual asbestos fibers can break off and enter the air, allowing them to be breathed in by crewmen and dockworkers, causing mesothelioma. The mineral asbestos has been known for centuries for its ability to insulate; however, it was also shown to be the main factor in the development of debilitating diseases such as pleural plaques and peritoneal mesothelioma. Sadly, a mesothelioma prognosis is generally not good - mesothelioma sufferers have a life expectancy of less than two years after a mesothelioma diagnosis is made. With current medical technology doctors have not yet found a mesothelioma cure, however, there are supportive treatments that enhance survival time and make patients more comfortable, like mesothelioma surgery. As mesothelioma is a relatively rare condition, not all clinics or clinicians are equipped to provide the best treatment of mesothelioma.
If you or a family member has contracted peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma, be advised that you may have legal remedies available and a professional mesothelioma lawyer can counsel you about your best course of action. Information on malignant mesothelioma isn't always easy to find, so we have created a mesothelioma information packet with up-to-date information on legal options and medical options along with a list of mesothelioma clinics all over the U.S. Simply fill out the form on this page and we'll send you a free kit.Sources
Norman. US Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983)
Stafford, Edward. The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1962.)