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USS Independence (CV-62)

​​USS Independence (CV-62)

The USS Independence (CV-62) was a Forrestal-class aircraft carrier serving the US Navy from 1959 until 1998. One of the first "supercarriers" (exceeding 1000 feet in length and displacing over 70,000 tons), the second carrier to bear the name Independence was commissioned on 10 January 1959 under the command of Captain R.Y. McElroy. The Independence is currently laid up at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, awaiting disposal.


The Independence was contracted at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY, beginning in July 1955. Construction took nearly three years; the completed vessel was launched on 6 June 1958. She measures 1,046 feet in length and has a beam of over 249 feet. When fully loaded, the carrier displaced over 86,600 tons. Propulsion was provided by four geared turbines, powered by eight boilers. The turbines were manufactured by Westinghouse; the boilers were a product of Babcock & Wilcox.

Repairs and Upgrades

After her post-shakedown yard availability, Independence next underwent maintenance at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard between November 1962 and August 1963. Her next maintenance period took place at the same facility, during which the vessel spent six months undergoing an extensive overhaul between 5 November 1964 and 10 May 1965.

The carrier's next overhaul was during the first months of 1968; Independence left the Norfolk Yard in April of that year.

In February 1985, Independence was ordered to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for modernizations and upgrades intended to extend her useful service life by at least fifteen years. Known as a "Service Life Extension Program" (SLEP) the vessel received improvements to her flight deck and missile launchers. Modifications on her engines were carried out in order to reduce fuel consumption as well. The project was finished in June 1988.

Wartime Service

Initially based at the Norfolk Naval Base, Independence spent her first year off the Virginia coast in training and qualifications. In August of 1960, she made the first of several Mediterranean deployments.

1962 was a year of great tension between the United States and USSR, and Independence was kept busy. In April of that year, she was ordered to the Mediterranean as Cold War tensions heightened in the wake of the construction of the Berlin Wall. That October, she was part of the naval blockade of Cuba, preventing the deployment of Soviet missiles to that island.

In August of 1963, Independence sailed for Europe for NATO exercises with British and French naval vessels. Similar exercises took place with the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean in October. After a return to port, Independence once again took part in NATO exercises off the coast of Europe the following year.

In 1965, Independence was ordered to Vietnam. Her one deployment was 100 days. starting in June and ending toward the end of November.

Over the next several years, Independence was sent back to the Mediterranean, both in response to the ongoing crises in the Middle East and to balance the presence of Soviet vessels.

1980 found Independence in the Indian Ocean, and she was present when the Iranian hostage crisis came to an end in January 1981. The following year, she was dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean in response to the crisis in Lebanon.

In late October 1983, Independence was ordered to the Caribbean for the invasion of Grenada when the local military staged a coup. Following this, the vessel was sent back to Lebanon.

Independence operated in the Persian Gulf during the fall of 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield, spending 90 days on station before she was relieved on 20 December.

In 1991, the Independence served as a set for the filming of Flight of the Intruder. On 11 September of that year, the vessel's home port was shifted to Yokosuka, Japan. From there, she made several deployments to the Persian Gulf to enforce sanctions against the Iraqi government.

Her last years of service were spent in operations off the coast of China and the South Pacific. After one final deployment to the Persian Gulf in 1998, she was ordered to the Puget Sound Naval Yard to stand down.

Independence was decommissioned on 30 September 1998.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Independence (CV-62)

While virtually every naval vessel constructed prior to the early 1980s contained vast amounts of asbestos materials, aircraft carriers were particularly hazardous due to the storage of aviation fuel. Frequent accidents, battle strikes and weather-related damage often knocked asbestos materials loose, causing them to release fibers throughout the vessel.

Independence managed to escape serious damage during its nearly forty years in service. During the filming of scenes from the 1991 feature Flight of the Intruder, several small electrical fires were started as a result of the use of lighting equipment. However, it is likely that most of the vessel's asbestos was removed during its SLEP modernization in the late 1980s.

Despite the fact that all of the service branches used asbestos in various types of locations and installations, asbestos exposure was much more frequent on ships and in drydock, and thus there are significantly more navy mesothelioma cases than in other services. Independence made use of asbestos frequently in engines and engine rooms, as well as for insulation all through the vessel. Asbestos has long been known for its insulation properties; however, it was also proven to be the main cause of life-threatening illnesses like pleural plaques and pleural mesothelioma.

The survival rate of mesothelioma sufferers is quite low - but treatments like chemotherapy for mesothelioma can offer some hope and may lengthen survival time. To help mesothelioma patients in finding the right treatment and care options, we created a Mesothelioma Treatment Guide with information on treatments, clinics, and experimental protocols. Trustworthy information concerning mesothelioma cancer isn't easy to unearth, so we've also written a mesothelioma information packet with complete information concerning legal options and treatment options, along with a list of nationwide clinical trials that are currently underway. All you have to do is fill in the form on this page and we'll mail you a packet at no cost to you.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).

USN. "INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) MULTI-PURPOSE AIRCRAFT CARRIER." Updated 1 March 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2010.