Asbestos in the military

USS Cabot (CVL-28)

Description:  History of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Cabot (CVL-28) including information about asbestos exposure for workers.

The USS Cabot was originally planned as the USS Wilmington (CL-79). She was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her keel was laid down at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation on March 16, 1942. She was launched on April 4, 1943 and commissioned on July 24, 1943 under the command of Captain M.F. Shoeffel.

USS Cabot arrived in the South Pacific at the start of 1944. Throughout February and March, her planes took part in the air strikes against Roi, Namur, Truk, the Palaus, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai. From April 22 to April 25, she provided air cover at Hollandia before moving on to Truk, Satawan, and Ponape.

On June 6, the USS Cabot headed to the Mariana Islands for pre-invasion air strikes. Her aircraft were active in the Battle of the Philippine Sea later that month, a decisive victory for the Americans that was later referred to as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot.” She remained to support the strikes on Iwo Jima, Pagan, Rota, Guam, Yap, and Ulithi until August 9, 1944.

In September, USS Cabot participated in pre-invasion air strikes on the Palaus, Mindanao, the Visayas, and Luzon. She sailed to Okinawa in October and supported operations at Formosa before escorting two cruisers, the USS Canberra and USS Houston, to the Carolines after they were torpedoed. When they arrived there safely, the aircraft carrier returned to carry out air strikes on the Visayas and take part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

While patrolling the waters off Luzon, the USS Cabot fought off numerous kamikaze attacks. On November 25, two of the kamikazes she’d hit crashed into the ship. The first kamikaze crashed into the flight deck, taking out the 20 mm gun platform, the 40 mm gun mounts, and a gun director. The second kamikaze scattered the port side with burning debris and shrapnel. In the end, 62 men were either dead or injured. The aircraft carrier made temporary repairs and maintained her position until she headed to Ulithi for permanent repairs on November 28.

When her repair work was done, USS Cabot returned to the fighting on December 11. Her planes carried out air strikes against Luzon, Formosa, Indochina, Hong Kong, and Nansei Shoto. From February to March 1945, she supported operations in the Bonins, Kyushu, and Okinawa. By June, USS Cabot was ready for a much-needed overhaul, and she sailed home to San Francisco.

USS Cabot returned to action later that summer, launching air strikes against Wake Island on August 1. She then sailed to Eniwetok for training duty until the war ended. The carrier joined Task Group 38.3 in support of the landings of occupation forces in September and October before taking part in Operation Magic Carpet on her way home.

The USS Cabot was decommissioned on February 11, 1947, but later recommissioned on October 27, 1948 to serve in the Naval Air Reserve training program, operating out of Pensacola and Quonset Point. She was decommissioned again on January 21, 1955 and reclassified AVT-3 on May 15, 1959.

In 1967, the USS Cabot was loaned to the Spanish Navy, where she was known as Dedalo. The loan became a sale in 1972, but she was struck from the Spanish Navy in August 1989. The carrier was turned over to a private organization in the United States to be converted into a museum ship, and she was designated a National Historical Landmark on June 29, 1990. Unfortunately, the organization was never able to obtain enough funding, and the ship was auctioned off and sold for scrap on September 10, 1999. The ship was no longer designated as National Historical Landmark as of August 7, 2001, and she was finally scrapped in 2002. The USS Cabot earned nine battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her service in World War II.

Like all other ships of the World War II era, the USS Cabot was built using many asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was known for its resistance to heat, fire, water, and corrosion, so it could be found in virtually all areas of the ship and in the aircraft she carried. Anyone who served on or participated in the repair and overhaul of the aircraft carrier was put at risk of developing serious asbestos-related illnesses like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare by deadly form of cancer that attacks the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.

USS Cabot workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma.  Anyone who worked on or around the USS Cabot, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

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