The USS Intrepid (CV-11) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier serving the US Navy from World War II though Vietnam. She was commissioned on 16 August 1943 under the command of Captain Thomas L. Sprague. She is currently docked in New York City as a floating museum.
The Essex class was the second class of vessel designed from the keel up as an aircraft carrier. These carriers either had a "short" or a "long" hull; Intrepid was one of the latter.
Intrepid was a product of the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company near Norfolk, Virginia. Laid one week before the Pearl Harbor attack and launched near the end of April 1943, the "Fighting I" had a length of 872 feet, a beam of 147 feet and displaced 36,380 tons when she first entered the water. Her eight boilers powered four Westinghouse geared steam turbines.
Intrepid's original crew compliment consisted of 2,600 officers and seamen.
Repairs and Upgrades
During her 31 years of active service, Intrepid was plagued by mechanical problems and damage that required several periods in dry dock; for this reason, she was also nicknamed the "Dry I."
While operating in the Caroline Islands on 17 February 1944, Intrepid suffered her first serious battle damage when a torpedo hit her stern starboard quarter below the waterline. This damaged her rudder and flooded several deck compartments. After a week, she limped into Pearl Harbor for temporary repairs, then proceeded to the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, arriving in March. Repairs took three months.
On 30 October, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, a kamikaze pilot struck one of Intrepid's port guns, resulting in 16 casualties. Less than a month later, she was hit again, resulting in a major fire in addition to eleven casualties. The damage necessitated her return to San Francisco for two months of repair work, commencing in late December.
During the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, Intrepid was hit yet again when a Japanese aircraft smashed into her flight deck, penetrating into the hangar deck below. The incident killed eight and injured twenty-one crewmen. The damage required five weeks of repairs, carried out at the Hunter's Point facility between 19 May and 29 June.
Decommissioned after the war, Intrepid underwent an SCB-27C Modernization at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard beginning in April 1952. During this period, she was fitted with steam catapults.
Intrepid underwent a second modernization (SCB-125) at the New York Navy Yard between September 1955 and April 1957. These upgrades included an enclosed "hurricane bow" and an angled flight deck.
In March 1962, she underwent refits for anti-submarine warfare. This was followed by an extensive overhaul that fall; all work that year was carried out at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Three years later, she was sent to the New York Naval Shipyard for her next overhaul, which included a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) procedure. Work began in late March 1965 and continued for the remainder of the year. In September, the vessel was moved to the Naval Supply Depot in Bayonne, New Jersey for completion of the work after the Brooklyn facility was closed.
After decommissioning in 1974, Intrepid was moved to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Originally slated for scrapping, the vessel was preserved and opened as a public museum in 1982.
In 2006, Intrepid was towed to the Bayonne Dry Dock and Repair Corporation Shipyard for extensive refurbishments. She was returned to her present location in October 2008.
The Intrepid arrived in the Marshall Islands in January 1944. She continued in her support role through numerous island campaigns until a torpedo hit took her out of action for several months.
After repairs, she returned to the Marshalls and then to the Philippines, remaining in the thick of the action until hit by a kamikaze pilot in November. This forced her return to port for repairs until March 1945. She was in action for just over a month before another strike put her out of commission. She returned to the Pacific just in time to receive the news that the war was over. The vessel proceeded to Japan, supporting the post-war occupation until December.
In reserve for several years, the carrier was re-commissioned in October 1954 after modernizations. For the remainder of that decade and into the early 1960s, Intrepid carried out regular deployments to Europe and the Mediterranean.
Intrepid was noteworthy for its participation in the United States manned space program during the 1960s, serving as a recovery vessel for Aurora 7 and Gemini 3. At other times, she carried out missions in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
Intrepid made two combat tours of Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. Her remaining years were spent making deployments to northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Intrepid (CV-11)
Most of the vessel's battle damage that would have exacerbated asbestos exposure risk is described above. Her most serious peacetime accident occurred in the fall of 1969, when the vessel was run aground while stationed out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
While all of the services utilized asbestos in various types of locations and vehicles, asbestos exposure was much more frequent aboard ship, and thus studies find many more mesothelioma navy cases than in other divisions of the military. When asbestos-containing material becomes worn it can become friable, meaning that fibers can be broken off and escape into the surrounding air, and then can be breathed in by sailors or dockworkers, increasing the odds of developing mesothelioma. The damage brought about by asbestos fibers occurs when very small fibers are inhaled or ingested; they can invade the lungs and mesothelium and occasionally other organs, causing scarring in the case of asbestosis and cellular damage in the case of malignant mesothelioma.
Tragically, a mesothelioma prognosis is generally not positive; usually mesothelioma patients live for less than two years after diagnosis. Since mesothelioma is a very uncommon disease, not all hospitals and clinicians are able to provide top-notch mesothelioma treatment. Trustworthy information on mesothelioma isn't easy to unearth, so we've compiled a mesothelioma information packet with information about your legal options and choices for medical treatment, along with a list of mesothelioma trials in the United States. All you have to do is submit the form on this page and we'll mail you the packet at no charge.Sources
Friedman, Norman. United States Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983)
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).
Pyle, Richard. "Aircraft Carrier Survived Wars, Years of Decay." Washington Times, 30 September 2008.