The USS Willapa (AVG-53/ACV-53/CVE-53) was a Bogue-class escort aircraft carrier laid down on May 21, 1943, and launched on November 8, the same year. It was commissioned on February 5, 1944, as HMS Puncher with the hull number D-79 under the United Kingdom’s flag and served in the Royal Navy for 2 years until it was decommissioned on February 16, 1946. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 646 men on board. After the decommissioning, the ship was transferred back to the USA, struck from the Navy List on March 12, 1946, and sold for scrapping in 1973 in Taiwan.
When the dangers of asbestos became publicly known, in the late 1970s, the U.S. Navy has taken action to remove existing asbestos from military ships, however, because of age, the asbestos has become brittle which makes it tedious to remove. Due to its thin fibers and brittle nature, asbestos poses a hazard to people’s health if safety guidelines are not strictly followed.