The USS Randolph (CV-15) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy during the Second World War. One of twenty-four such vessels constructed, she was commissioned in October 1944 under the command of Captain F.L. Baker.
Considered the first "modern" aircraft carriers, the Essex class was remarkably successful; vessels of this type served in the navies of the US and other NATO countries into the 1990s, almost fifty years after they were launched. Most of these underwent extensive modernizations in the 1950s and 1960s.
Randolph was built at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company between May 1943 and the end of June 1944. As built, she measured 888 feet in length and 93 feet across at the waterline. She was powered by four geared Westinghouse steam turbines, driven by a set of eight Babcock and Wilcox boilers. With a crew of 3448 officers and seamen, she could carry up to 100 prop-driven aircraft.
Repairs and Upgrades
Like most Essex-class carriers, Randolph underwent significant modifications over the years as aviation technology evolved. In the early 1950s, as jet aircraft were rapidly replacing prop-driven planes, Randolph underwent an SCB-27A Modernization at the yard where she was built. In order to accommodate heavier jet aircraft, her flight deck was reinforced and her elevators and catapults upgraded. In addition, hull blisters were added to provide stability for the additional topside weight. The work took two years; Randolph remained at the Newport News yard from June 1951 until July 1953.
Two years later, Randolph underwent another modernization (SBC-125). Performed at the Norfolk Naval Yard, the carrier was given an angled flight deck, enabling simultaneous aircraft launch and recovery.
Her next upgrade was an SCB-144 Modernization, carried out between October 1960 and March 1961. During this period, she was equipped with new sonar equipment and improved radar displays.
In November 1961, Randolph was in the Portsmouth Naval Yard in Virginia for repairs to her hull following a collision at sea.
After her shakedown trials in the Caribbean and a stop in San Francisco to pick up her air wing, Randolph got underway for the Pacific in January 1945. For the next several months, the carrier was based out of Ulithi, carrying out raids against enemy positions on the Ryukyu Islands and the southern Japanese mainland.
Following the war, she returned to Norfolk in the fall of 1945. For the remainder of the year, she served as a transport vessel for US troops returning from the Mediterranean.
For the next two years, she served as a training ship, traveling primarily to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and northern Europe. After undergoing modifications in the early 1950s, she got underway for duty in the Mediterranean.
The carrier underwent another upgrade in 1955-56, and then continued her deployments to the Mediterranean, alternating these with routine duties along the Atlantic Seaboard.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, Randolph encountered a Soviet submarine off the Cuban coast; there were tense moments as the crew dropped "practice" depth charges on the sub in an attempt to force it to the surface.
Randolph's most memorable moments were in 1961 and 1962, when she served as the recovery ship for two of NASA's early Mercury missions.
Randolph was decommissioned in February 1969 and laid up at the Boston Naval Shipyard for the next several years. In May 1975, she was sold to the Union Minerals and Alloys Company of Kearny, New Jersey, for scrap.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Randolph (CV-15)
The ongoing asbestos exposure risk aboard naval vessels is often exacerbated by damage sustained in battle, storms or accidents. During March of 1945, when anchored at Ulithi atoll in the South Pacific, Randolph was struck by a plane piloted by one of the infamous kamikaze suicide flyers. The aircraft struck Randolph just below her port flight deck, resulting in over 130 casualties. Repairs were carried out at the Ulithi base.
In October 1961, while refueling at sea, Randolph was rammed by the tanker SS Atlantic Viscountess. The tanker struck Randolph on her port bow, resulting in a fire in the hangar bay. Fortunately, the fire – burning near an ordnance storage locker – was quickly contained. However, the accident resulted in a 25-foot hole in the carrier's hull.
Despite the fact that all branches of the military made use of asbestos insulation in all sorts of locations and installations, exposure was much more pervasive on ships, and as a result there are many more navy mesothelioma cases than in the other branches. If an asbestos-based product is damaged it can become friable, which means that fibers can break off and escape into the air, where they can be breathed in by sailors or repair workers, possibly causing mesothelioma.
At the present time medical science has not developed a mesothelioma cure; however, skilled doctors such as Dr. David Sugarbaker are constantly working to create new treatments and methods. Asbestos-caused diseases like malignant mesothelioma are relatively uncommon, and as a result finding reliable information may be difficult; that's why we wrote a Mesothelioma Treatment Guide which contains a great deal of information on mesothelioma clinics, clinical trials, and options for treatment. Just fill in 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).