U.S.S. Antietam (CV-36)

Antietam was an Essex-class carrier that gained fame as the first true angled-deck aircraft carrier in service.

Construction

She was laid down in Philadelphia on March 15, 1943 and commissioned on January 28, 1945.

Service

Antietam spent the first half of 1945 training off the East Coast, transferring to the Pacific in May. She trained for combat duty at Pearl Harbor until 12 August and was headed for the war zone when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945. She initially operated in support of the U.S. occupation of Japan, but was later transferred to Shanghai, China. Antietam patrolled the Yellow Sea for three years, witnessing the Communist takeover of China. In 1949, she returned to the U.S. and was decommissioned at Alameda Naval Air Station.

Recommissioned on 17 January 1951, Antietam trained up and down the California coast before heading to Korea in November. She remained on station until March 1952, when she returned to the U.S. This was to be the only combat tour of her career. During this deployment, her aircraft flew close to 6,000 sorties. She was decommissioned upon her return in April but was recommissioned in August. She joined the Atlantic Fleet and sailed to New York Navy Yard for modifications. Antietam left the shipyard in December 1952 as the world’s first operational angled-deck carrier. The angled protrusion from her flight deck allowed aircraft to land at an angle, instead of straight on. This meant that Antietam could store or launch aircraft from the forward part of her flight deck and land aircraft on the angled deck simultaneously. Throughout 1953, U.S. and British aircraft tested the new deck configuration. The results were impressive enough to convert both navies to the angled-deck standard.

The carrier spent much of her time after this in the Mediterranean. She covered the evacuation of American citizens from Egypt during the Suez crisis in 1956. Antietam was assigned to training duty in 1957 and would continue as the primary training carrier for NAS Pensacola for the remainder of her career. 1961 saw another milestone for Antietam. A manned balloon launched from her flight deck on May 4 achieved a record altitude of 113,740 feet, a record that stands to this day. Tragically, during the recovery of the balloon, one of its crew was lost as he slipped free of a helicopter harness.

Fate

Antietam was relieved as Pensacola’s training ship by her sister Lexington on October 23, 1962 and was transferred to the reserve fleet in Philadelphia. She remained there until 1973 when her name was officially struck from the Navy Register. Antietam was sold for scrap in 1974.

Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was widely used in the construction of steam-powered ships when Antietam was built. It was employed as an insulator for all of a ship’s steam pipes, boilers, and turbines. It would also have been present in the tile used on some of the ship’s decks. Any damage or wear and tear on an asbestos-covered surface can cause the substance to break down into tiny fibers, which can easily be inhaled by anyone nearby.

Inhalation of asbestos is a proven cause of mesothelioma, a malignant cancer of the lungs. While there is no cure, treatments such as chemotherapy can be employed to fight the cancer. If you or someone you know served aboard Antietam or worked on her in a shipyard and has contracted mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Please fill out the form at the bottom of this page for a free information packet regarding your legal options.

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