The USS Yorktown (CV-10) was an Essex-class aircraft carrier serving the United States Navy from World War II through Vietnam. Named in honor of her predecessor, the Yorktown (CV-5) which was lost at the Battle of Midway, the CV-10 had a long and distinguished career, and since 1975 has been preserved as a floating museum and National Historic Landmark in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Yorktown was laid down a week prior to the Pearl Harbor raid and launched in mid-January of 1943.
At flight deck level, Yorktown was just short of 900 feet in length with a beam of 146 feet, six inches. When she first entered the water, she had a standard displacement of 27,100 tons. Although modifications later would add to her weight and dimensions, she retained her original power plant, consisting of four Westinghouse geared turbines and eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers.
She was staffed by 2600 officers and seamen and originally was capable of carrying up to 100 aircraft.
Repairs and Upgrades
Following her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean, Yorktown underwent three weeks of repairs and adjustments at Norfolk in June and July of 1943 prior to her maiden combat deployment to the Pacific. During the war, she escaped major damage, undergoing only regular maintenance at Ulithi NOB and Pearl Harbor at required intervals. After hostilities ceased, she received some upkeep in Tokyo Bay. In the fall of 1945 she received repairs at the Hunters Point Naval Yard near San Francisco.
After the war she spent more than five years in mothballs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (Naval Station Kitsap, in Bremerton Washington) before being reactivated and undergoing an SCB-27A conversion, which enabled her to carry the new jet aircraft then coming into service. Conversion work at NB Kitsap began in the summer of 1952 and continued for six months, then continued at Bremerton in March 1955 for an SCB-127 conversion, which added an enclosed "hurricane bow" and an angled flight deck for more efficient launch and recovery of aircraft.
During a third stay at NB Kitsap between October 1957 and February 1958, she underwent conversion for anti-submarine warfare and had her hull code changed to CVS-10. Her fourth period in Bremerton was for a major overhaul between September 1960 and January 1961.
Yorktown underwent a seven-month overhaul at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard near Los Angeles between February and October 1967 and a shorter overhaul at the same facility from the start of July until the end of September 1968.
After distinguished service in World War II, Yorktown was laid up in reserve at NS Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington for five years. When she returned to duty in 1953, she began regular deployments to the Far East for peace-keeping duties and maneuvers, carrying out routine patrols along the West Coast of the U.S. between deployments.
In the mid-1960s, Yorktown was deployed to Vietnam a number of times. In 1968, Yorktown was used for a feature film about Pearl Harbor. In December of that year, she was notable for serving as the recovery vessel for Apollo 8. In January 1969, Yorktown was shifted to NOB Norfolk, visiting the Caribbean and Northern Europe. During the latter deployment, she was part of Operation Peacekeeper, a major NATO exercise.
Yorktown was ordered to the Inactive Ship Facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June 1970 to stand down. In 1974, she was donated to the Patriot's Point Development Authority of Charleston, South Carolina as a museum ship. After a brief stay at Bayonne, New Jersey, the vessel was towed to Charleston in June 1975.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Yorktown (CV-10)
Other than the normal asbestos exposure risks present aboard marine craft built prior to 1980, Yorktown managed to get through her 32-year-career without battle damages or unusual accidents. However, in late 1968, the vessel was used as one of the sets for the feature film Tora! Tora! Tora!, which depicted the raid on Pearl Harbor 27 years earlier. This involved making cosmetic alterations to the vessel that might have exposed the crew to asbestos-containing materials. Yorktown may still contain considerable quantities of asbestos, as the US Navy informed the museum in October of 2009 that “repairs" must be carried out on the vessel or she must be disposed of.
Using asbestos fireproofing in the construction of naval vessels was ordered by the US Congress in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard the SS Morro Castle resulted in great loss of life. Navy ships like Yorktown made use of asbestos-containing materials in great quantities, especially in ship's boilers and engine rooms, and to insulate compartments all through the ship. If asbestos is damaged it becomes friable, meaning that individual fibers can break off and escape into the atmosphere, allowing them to be breathed in by crewmen and shipfitters, potentially leading to the development of mesothelioma.
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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).