The USS Randolph (CV-15) was ordered for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Her keel was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company on May 10, 1943. She was launched on June 28, 1944 and commissioned on October 9, 1944 under the command of Captain Felix Locke Baker.
USS Randolph joined Task Force 58 at Ulithi on February 10, 1945. She spent the rest of February launching air strikes against Tokyo airfields, the Tachikawa engine plant, Chichi Jima, Iwo Jima, Haha Jima, and Hachijo Jima. The carrier was anchored at Ulithi when she was struck by a kamikaze on the starboard side just below the flight deck, killing 27 men and injuring 105 others. Repair work was completed at Ulithi.
Once her repairs were done, the USS Randolph joined the Okinawa Task force, conducting daily combat air patrols from April 7 until April 14. On April 14, she launched air strikes against Okinawa, Ie Jima, and Kakeroma Island. Her aircraft would then move on to strike at Kyushu, the Ryukyu Islands, southern Japan, and Kikai-Amami Island. She became the flagship of Task Force 58 on May 15, supporting the occupation of Okinawa until May 29.
Over the summer, USS Randolph sailed with Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet, striking targets on the Japanese home islands. In late July, she performed an anti-shipping sweep of the Inland Sea. Pilots from her aircraft estimated that they had sunk 25 to 30 ships from July 10-25 and damaged 35 to 40 others. She continued air strikes until the Japanese surrender on August 15.
After World War II, the USS Randolph made two cruises for Operation Magic Carpet, bringing U.S. troops home from the war in the Mediterranean. She completed cruises to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic before she was decommissioned on February 25, 1948.
The USS Randolph was reclassified as CVA-15 on October 1, 1952 and recommissioned on July 1, 1953. She sailed to the Mediterranean with the Sixth Fleet on February 3, 1954 and took part in NATO exercises in 1954 and 1955. The aircraft carrier underwent modernization from June 1955 until January 1956, during which time she received an angled flight deck.
When her modernization was complete, she conducted weapons testing and air operations in the Atlantic. She rejoined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean in July 1956. She stood ready when Britain, Israel, and France invaded the United Arab Republic in October, and she provided air reconnaissance when U.S. nationals were evacuated from Alexandria. The aircraft carrier made several deployments to the Mediterranean through 1959.
USS Randolph was reclassified as CVS-15 on March 31, 1959. She conducted antisubmarine warfare operations and earned her fourth Battle Efficiency “E” in as many years in September 1960. The carrier headed to Norfolk for overhaul before serving as the prime recovery ship for the space capsule containing astronaut Virgil Grissom. She then served as the prime recovery ship for astronaut John Glenn’s first orbital voyage in space in February 1962.
The USS Randolph returned to the Mediterranean in the summer of 1962, but had to sail to the Caribbean in October to support the naval quarantine during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She and her destroyer group trapped the Soviet submarine B-59 and forced it to surface on October 27.
USS Randolph headed back to Norfolk for overhaul. She made two more cruises to the Mediterranean and a cruise to northern Europe over the next five years, but she spent most of her time in the Caribbean and off the East Coast. The aircraft carrier was decommissioned on February 13, 1969, removed from the Naval Vessel Register on June 1, 1973, and sold for scrap in May 1975. The USS Randolph received three battle stars for her service in World War II.
Like other ships built during World War II, the USS Randolph was constructed from many asbestos-containing components. The toxic substance asbestos was known for its resistance to corrosion, heat, water, and fire, so it could be found in virtually all areas of the ship and in the aircraft she carried. Anyone who served aboard the USS Randolph or was involved in her repair and overhaul was put at risk of developing serious asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
USS Randolph 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 Randolph, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.