The USS Monterey (CVL-26) was an Independence-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy from World War II through the mid-1950s. Commissioned in June 1943 under the command of Captain L.T. Hundt, the vessel is most notable for being the ship on which late former US President Gerald Ford served as a young ensign in 1944 .
The Independence-class carriers were a series of light carriers that were constructed in the early 1940s as an emergency stopgap measure. Vessels such as Monterey were constructed on hulls intended for light cruisers. Monterey itself was built atop a hull originally intended for the USS Dayton, which was laid down at the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden, New Jersey at the end of December 1941. The finished carrier was launched on the last day of February 1943.
At the time she was launched, Monterey measured 622.5 feet from bow to stern, just over 109 feet across on her flight deck, and displaced 11,000 tons. With a crew compliment of fewer than 1600 officers and crewmen and room for only 45 planes, she had many disadvantages, but her one advantage outweighed all other considerations – she was available when needed.
Repairs and Upgrades
Like most carriers on active duty, Monterey was obliged to return to the states periodically for routine maintenance. The first is always immediately following shakedown trials, usually at the shipyard where the vessel was built; the purpose is to make last-minute repairs and adjustments prior to first deployment. However, in Monterey's case, this was performed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard just prior to setting out for the Pacific.
Monterey underwent her first overhaul at Pear Harbor during the summer of 1944. She next put into the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington in January 1945 for routine maintenance in addition to repairs for damage suffered during a storm at sea.
USS Monterey reached the Gilbert Islands in mid-November 1943. She continued combat operations with Task Force 58 through June of 1944, including campaigns in the Carolines, Marianas and New Guinea as well as the decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea, which was the virtual end of the Imperial Japanese Navy. After a voyage home for maintenance, she returned to the combat zone for the final reconquest of the Philippines.
Following repairs for storm damage, Monterey rejoined TF 58 for the last raids against the Japanese home islands. Upon her return to the States in September 1945, Monterey was assigned to "Magic Carpet" runs between Europe and NB Norfolk, bringing servicemen home. In February 1947, she was mothballed at Philadelphia.
Reactivated for the Korean War in September 1950, the now-obsolete Monterey found a new role as a training vessel out of Pensacola. Her last foreign mission was a humanitarian one, providing rescue services for victims of a flood in Honduras during the first week of October 1954.
In June 1955, Monterey was ordered to return to Philadelphia and assigned to reserve status. Six months later, she was decommissioned and was laid up in Philadelphia under sold to a shipbreaker in May 1971.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Monterey (CVL-26)
The most serious damage that occurred to Monterey during her career was during Typhoon Cobra ("Halsey's Typhoon") in December 1944 when several vessels were caught by the storm in the open sea. Several of the ship's aircraft were torn loose from their mooring cables, leading to the outbreak of a number of fires on the hangar deck as well as below decks.
Using asbestos insulation in the construction of oceangoing ships was required by Congress in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard the SS Morro Castle resulted in great loss of life. Ships like Monterey made use of asbestos frequently, especially in boilers and engine compartments, and for fireproofing all through the ship. The harm done by asbestos occurs when very small particles are inhaled; they can infiltrate the mesothelial lining and occasionally other organs, causing scarring in the case of asbestosis and cellular damage in the case of mesothelioma.
At the present time medicine has not developed a cure for mesothelioma disease; however, dedicated doctors such as Dr. David Sugarbaker are always working on progressive treatments and modalities. Asbestos cancers like mesothelioma are relatively uncommon, so it could be impractical to get first-hand assistance; that's why we created a Mesothelioma Treatment Guide which contains comprehensive information concerning clinics for mesothelioma, experimental trials, and options for treatment. Simply fill out the form on this page and we will send you this free guide.Sources
Friedman, Norman. U.S. 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).