World Aircraft Carriers List
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USS Coral Sea (CV 43)

"Coral Maru"......."The Ageless Warrior"

USS Coral Sea (CV 43), the last Midway class carrier to be completed, served from 1947 to 1989. The most modern carrier in the fleet when completed, she was soon made obsolete by jet aircraft and was reconstructed in 1957-60 to enable her to operate the largest aircraft then in service. She never received another major rebuild, but served on through countless wars, conflicts and "hot spots' until her advancing age and the end of the Cold War sealed her fate.

Ordered as CV 43, she became CVB 43 before being laid down, then became CVA 43 in 1952. In 1975 she again reverted to her original designation of CV 43.

The Early Years

 [THUMBNAIL] USS Coral Sea as completed, starboard side. Note the heavy gun batteries along the hangar sides. As originally planned the batteries were even heavier, but they were reduced before the ship was compelted. Note the bow, still open, but more enclosed than on her sisterships. (USN Official Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] USS Coral Sea as completed, starboard side. Another view, this one from astern.
(USN Official Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] Another "As Completed" view, showing the original flight deck configuration.
(USN Official Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] Another overhead view, showing the size of the intial air wing. This wing was found to be too large for efficient flight deck operation. (USN Official Photo)

The Later Years

 [THUMBNAIL] Coral Sea following her SCB 110A reconstruction, undertaken at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1957-60. This view shows the new flight deck configuration clearly. After modernization she was the most modern vessel of the class. Coral Sea participated in the Vietnam conflict, and flew air strikes in support of the Mayaguez rescue operation. She served in the Pacific until 1983, when she shifted to the Atlantic Fleet, participating in the strikes against Libya in 1986. During her later years the was unable to operate the full range of aircraft in service. The F-14 and S-3 were too large for her to operate effectively, so she recieved an addtional squadron of F/A-18s instead. (USN Official Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] Coral Sea at Norfolk in essentially her final configuration. During the 1980's plans called for her to replace Lexington as the training carrier in 1992. However, the end of the Cold War lead to reduced carrier force levels, and she was discarded instead. (Photo courtesy Charles Berlemann)

 [THUMBNAIL] Coral Sea, again at Norfolk, in essentially her final configuration.
(CP Cavas Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] Coral Sea at sea in her final configuration, early 1989. (USN Official Photo)

 [THUMBNAIL] Coral Sea and USS Wasp (LHD 1) at the end of Coral Maru's final deployment, 28 September 1989. Deactivation and stripping at Norfolk started a few days later.
(USN Official Photo)

The Scrapping

Placed out of commission and struck from the Naval Vessels Register on 30 April 1991 after 44 years of service, Coral Sea was sold to N.R. Vessel Corp. of New York City on 30 March 1993, for scrapping. The scrapping was subcontracted to Seawitch Salvage of Baltimore. In service Coral Sea had recorded more arrested landings than any ship other than the training carrier USS Lexington, and after retirement she would set another record: the largest warship ever scrapped. Her vast size, and the fact that Seawolf had never attempted a project on this scale, would cause problems down the road.

 [THUMBNAIL] Ex-Coral Sea early in the scrapping process, 4 October 1993. Scrapping operations had started in July of 1993, and work moved slowly, due to the presence of hazardous materials aboard the ship. By December the catapults and extreme forward portions of the flight deck had been removed. (USN Official Photo by Don Montgomery)

 [THUMBNAIL] ex-Coral Sea half-scrapped, 25 August 1994. During 1994 the scrapping work shifted to the aft section of the ship. All sections of the flight deck aft of the forward hangar bulkhead were removed and sections of the hangar walls were cut up. The island was demolished in June, 1994. The hulk moored beside Coral Sea is that of a vessel named Seawitch, the first project Seawitch Salvage undertook, and the source of the company's name. (USN Official Photo by Don Montgomery)

 [THUMBNAIL] ex-Coral Sea half-scrapped, 25 August 1994. This is how the ship was left when Seawitch's financial problems, environmental issues, and problems encountered during the scrapping operation, put a stop to scrapping work in August 1994. At this stage everything above the hangar floor, except the forward flight deck and some hangar walls, had been removed. Piles of debris littered the ship. (USN Official Photo by Don Montgomery)

Late in 1995 the ship's owners announced the hulk would be sold for scrapping in China. The hulk was cleaned out and made ready for the tow vbefore the Navy blocked the sale in the courts. Scrapping work resumed in March 1996, only to stop again in August, when Seawitch was indicted on criminal charges related to the scrapping. Fires broke out aboard the hulk in November 1996 and May 1997. Scrapping work had resumed by mid-1997, and proceeded at a slow pace. The lower portions of the hulk still remained in 1999, and scrapping was finally completed in August 2000.

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