U.S.S. Wright CVL 49 (Light Aircraft Carrier) CC 2 (Command Ship)

U.S.S. Wright was a light aircraft carrier of the Saipan class launched just after World War II and commissioned in 1947. The ship was built at the Camden, New Jersey yards of the New York Shipbuilding Company.

Wright’s first role in active service, after initial shakedown and training operations, was as the flight training carrier for naval aviators in Pensacola, Florida. Interspersed with training cruises and other duties, Wright was used to qualify naval aviators in carrier operations.

Remaining in those duties through the end of the decade, Wright, after an overhaul, deployed to the Mediterranean in 1952, returning to the Atlantic coast of the United States later that year. Operations with NATO allies occupied the ship for the remainder of the year, and the following year, after completing an overhaul in Philadelphia, Wright cruised to the Pacific via the Panama Canal. Based in Yokosuka, Japan, Wright supported fleet operations off Korea and in East Asian waters until 1955. In 1956 Wright was decommissioned and transferred to the reserve fleet in Washington.

In 1962 Wright was reactivated and converted to a command ship, a process that took more than a year to complete. The hangar deck was converted to command and control facilities and the flight deck housed several large communications antennae, giving the ship the ability to offer command and control facilities over several vessels and shore operations.

Upon completion of the conversion, Wright returned to the Atlantic where, operating out of Norfolk, Virginia it served for the next six years as the National Emergency Command Post Afloat. (NECPA) NECPA was part of the continuity of command process designed to ensure control of the national nuclear forces in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. By the mid-1960s, that role was overtaken by airborne and underground command posts and Wright was used to provide communications for fleet units.

In 1970 the ship was again decommissioned and placed on reserve in Philadelphia, where it lay until 1980 when it was sold for scrap.

Asbestos Exposure on U.S.S. Wright

During its construction, and later during its extensive conversion, the builders of U.S.S. Wright used asbestos extensively in the building and maintenance of ships. Because of its durability and its resistance to heat, asbestos was considered an ideal material for use as insulation and was used in a wide variety of applications.

Materials that were manufactured from asbestos included deck tiles, bulkheads, ventilation dampers and plenums, electrical panels, gaskets and seals, glues and cements, brake linings, winches and capstans, clutch liners, and pipe insulation. Asbestos insulation covered the pipes which ran throughout the vessel. Any operation which would require the insulation to be removed, such as valve maintenance and repair, would have allowed friable asbestos to release microscopic fibers into the air. Asbestos fibers were distributed throughout the ship via contact with clothing and the ships ventilation system.

Asbestos-laden insulation was present in virtually all spaces and compartments within the vessel, making the likelihood of sustained exposure a constant threat while serving aboard U.S.S. Wright throughout its career.

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