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USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)

USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)

The USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy. Named for the World War II naval battle, she was commissioned in May 1946 under the command of Captain D.S. Cornwell.


Philippine Sea was one of the "long-hull" Essex-class vessels. They were an improvement over the previous Yorktown class, and because the early treaties that limited the size of "capital" ships had been discarded, her designers had virtually no constraints other than the available technology of the time.

Philippine Sea was built by Bethlehem Steel at the company's Fore River shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. The keel was laid in August 1944 and the vessel was launched just over a year later, after the war was over. At the time she was commissioned, she measured 888 feet long and 93 feet wide, displacing 27,100 tons. Her power plant consisted of eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers powering four Westinghouse geared steam turbines.

Carrying up to 100 aircraft, Philippine Sea had a crew compliment of 3,448 officers and seamen.

Repairs and Upgrades

As is the case for most vessels, Philippine Sea underwent her post-shakedown repairs and adjustments at the yard where she was built in September 1946 just after a summer training session out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

In May of 1949, Philippine Sea entered the Boston Naval Yard for an overhaul, which took her through the summer and into late September. The carrier's next major maintenance period took place at the US naval base at Yokosuka, Japan during March and April of 1951, following several months in action off the coast of Korea.

After the cease-fire, Philippine Sea went into dry dock at Hunter's Point near San Francisco. She remained there throughout the autumn of 1953.

Wartime Service

Following a summer training session out of NB Quonset Point, Philippine Sea departed for the Caribbean for her initial shakedown trials during the fall of 1946. The following January, she was ordered to the Antarctic south of New Zealand, where she served as a base for Admiral Richard Byrd's explorations of that continent.

Throughout the remainder of the 1940s and into 1950, Philippine Sea went on deployments to the Atlantic and Mediterranean several times, including a voyage to the Arctic Circle for cold weather tests.

Transferred to San Diego in 1950, she was ordered to Korea soon after war broke out in the summer of that year. Operating as the flagship for Task Force 77, Philippine Sea was in action almost continuously except for brief periods in port for replenishment. She remained in Korea for almost a year before a return to the States for repairs. She made a second combat tour of Korea between January and August 1952 and a third from December 1952 and August 1953.

After an overhaul period, Philippine Sea was deployed to the South Pacific in March 1954, operating from a naval base in Manila. During this time, she was involved in an incident in which a Taiwanese civilian airliner was shot down by military planes of the People's Republic of China. In the course of searching for survivors, a flight of Philippine Sea's aircraft engaged two Chinese fighter planes (the "Hainan Incident”).

Her remaining years of active duty were primarily spent operating in home waters between San Diego and Hawaii. In November 1957, her crew found the wreckage of a commercial airliner that went down between San Francisco and Honolulu, which had been the object of one of the most massive searches in aviation history.

After one last deployment to the Far East in 1958, Philippine Sea was ordered to San Diego in July of that year to stand down. She was decommissioned in December of that year. In 1971, she was sold to Zydell Explorations of Portland Oregon and scrapped.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)

Aside from the usual asbestos risks associated with naval vessels and the normal wear and tear of extended service, the Philippine Sea did not experience any serious accidents or battle damage during her years in the water.

Using asbestos fireproofing in the construction of oceangoing ships was required by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a deadly fire on a luxury liner resulted in enormous loss of life. Philippine Sea deployed asbestos insulation extensively in engines and engineering rooms, and to insulate compartments all over the vessel.

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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).

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