U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt CVB 42 (Aircraft Carrier)
Christened at its launching as U.S.S. Coral Sea, Franklin D. Roosevelt was renamed on May 8, 1945, in honor of the recently deceased president who had led the nation during the massive fleet expansion which occurred in the Second World War. Although the ship was completed too late to participate in that conflict, it would go on to a thirty-year career, including several notable events.
In 1946, Roosevelt was the first aircraft carrier to operate an all-jet aircraft, conducting tests and trials for catapult launches and arrested landings. Training, exercises and Mediterranean operations would occupy the ship for the ensuing months. Operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean for the next several years, Roosevelt was present during most major NATO exercises and fleet activities.
Too large to transit the Panama Canal, Roosevelt rounded Cape Horn at the tip of South America to complete its journey to Puget Sound for overhaul in 1954. Returning to the Atlantic after completion of the overhaul, Roosevelt operated largely as before, supporting fleet exercises and training in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, including Cuban waters during times of crisis there.
In 1966 and 1967, Roosevelt served in Vietnamese waters on the battle line, earning one campaign star. Returning to the Atlantic upon completion of its mission there, the remainder of the decade continued with more deployments and refit periods. In the early 1970s, while deployed to the Mediterranean, Roosevelt’s flight deck served as a landing platform for aircraft destined for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
During its career, Roosevelt was denied the extensive upgrades and modifications which were made available to other ships of its class. That fact, coupled with the large number of lengthy deployments the ship had made, resulted in the material condition of the thirty-year-old ship being subpar. In early 1977 that condition was exacerbated by a collision with a freighter, although the damaged carrier was able to steam home under its own power.
Roosevelt was decommissioned in 1977 and sold for scrap. Towed to Kearny, NJ, the Franklin D. Roosevelt ceased to exist by 1978.
Asbestos Exposure on Franklin D. Roosevelt
The extensive use of asbestos during the construction of ships of the same vintage as U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt is well documented. Although the ship was completed too late to participate during the Second World War, it was nonetheless built to standards which required the extensive use of asbestos as a fire retardant and insulator.
Aircraft carriers of the era were liberally lined with asbestos to reduce the risk of and control shipboard fires, a critical consideration on ships which routinely carried vast amounts of explosives and highly volatile aircraft fuel. This was in addition to the routine use of asbestos as an insulator for pipes throughout the ship. Other uses included linings for the ship’s boilers, deck tiles and plates, electrical panels and wiring insulation, winch brakes and clutches, drive couplings, cements, glues, solvents, and paints and in the construction of exhaust plenums.
Deterioration of insulation and the paint which covered it would easily allow the release of asbestos fibers into the atmosphere, where they would be carried throughout the ship by contact with clothing and by ventilators. Routine maintenance on components would require the removal of insulation applied to the components themselves or nearby, again releasing the undetectable fibers into the atmosphere.