Resources for Patients and their Families

USS Iwo Jima (CV-46)

The USS Iwo Jima (CV-46) was to have been an Essex-class aircraft carrier built for the US Navy for service during WWII. The vessel was never completed. She was named for the small volcanic island lying halfway between Japan and the Mariana Islands to the south, which was the site of a bitter, month long battle between United States and Japanese forces in February and March of 1945.

Since that time, two amphibious assault vessels, one of which is currently in service, have borne the name.


Construction of Iwo Jima started in January 1945 at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company near Norfolk, Virginia. She was to have been one of the "long hull" Essex-class carriers, measuring 888 feet in length and 93 feet across at the waterline.

The typical Essex-class vessel had an unladen displacement of over 27,000 tons. Iwo Jima was to have been equipped with four Westinghouse geared steam turbines with boilers manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox, a company that continues to operate and is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. During WWII, this company supplied over half of the boilers used aboard United States Naval ships.

Had she been completed, Iwo Jima would have had a crew compliment of over 3400 officers and seamen and carried up to 100 aircraft. The vessel was canceled on 12 August 1945, three days before Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced the formal surrender, bringing the conflict to an end.

Repairs and Upgrades

Essex-class carriers remained in service through the Vietnam Era; most of these received modernizations in the 1950s that included enclosed hurricane bows, steam-powered catapults and angled flight decks that permitted the launch of an aircraft at the same time another was recovered.

Wartime Service

The Essex class was literally the backbone of the US Navy's carrier force until the introduction of "supercarriers" (exceeding 1,000 feet in length and displacing more than 76,000 tons) in the late 1950s and 1960s. At least one Essex-class carrier, sold to Spain, remained in service until 1989. Four of these vessels have been preserved as museum exhibits.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Iwo Jima (CV-46)

As part of the Navy's front-line defense in during the Pacific campaign, some Essex-class carriers took horrific beatings from kamikaze attacks, bomb strikes and torpedo hits. Prior to the development of the "hurricane bow," the front of the vessel was also susceptible to weather damage in heavy seas.

Using asbestos in the design of all vessels was mandated by law in the US in the early 1930s, after a fire at sea aboard a luxury liner killed more than 100 people. While all branches of the military made use of asbestos-containing products in various types of buildings and vehicles, exposure was much more common on ships, and as a result there are many more mesothelioma navy victims than in the other branches. Navy ships like Iwo Jima deployed asbestos heavily, especially in engines and engine compartments, as well as for fireproofing all over the vessel.

If asbestos insulation is damaged it becomes "friable", meaning that individual fibers can break off and enter the air. They can then be inhaled or ingested by crewmen and repair workers, increasing the odds of developing mesothelioma. The mineral asbestos has long been known for its insulation properties; however, it has also been proven to be the only known factor in the development of such serious illnesses like asbestos cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma. Sadly, a prognosis for mesothelioma cases is almost never positive; generally mesothelioma disease victims live for a few months to a few years once they are diagnosed. The survival rate of mesothelioma sufferers is extremely low - but treatment protocols such as chemotherapy and surgery offer hope and often increase life expectancy. To aid malignant mesothelioma sufferers in finding the best medical options, we have created a free Mesothelioma Treatment Guide with comprehensive data on conventional and experimental treatments, clinics, and doctors.

If you or someone you know has developed malignant mesothelioma, you should be aware that you have legal options that might help and finding a well-established mesothelioma lawyer can aid you in deciding your course of action. Accurate information about malignant mesothelioma isn't always easy to find, so we have created a mesothelioma information package with information concerning your legal options and treatment options, and a list of mesothelioma trials in the United States. Simply complete the form on this page and we will get you the packet, at no cost to you.



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).

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