Notes: Coral Sea was completed two years later than her sisters Midway and Franklin D. Roosevelt and differed in having fewer 5"/54 guns and a shift from quad 40mm to twin 3"/50 secondary AA battery. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet on completion, she regularly deployed to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean through the mid-1950s. On 28 Apr 1948 Coral Sea launched two 100' wingspan P2V Neptune bombers as part of the Navy's early development of a "collateral" nuclear response capability. With deliveries of the AJ-1 Savage, deployments with nonnuclear components of atomic bombs, and from 1953 with all components, the Midway class remained in the Atlantic and Mediterranean as part of NATO forces. All three were modernized at Puget Sound in the late 1950s, Coral Sea being the last and most extensively altered, from April 1957 to 1960. Under SCB110A, she received an angled deck, an elevator on the port quarter, three C11-1 steam catapults, and her two centerline elevators moved to the starboard side, before and aft of the island. She also reduced to six 5"/54 guns and no 3"/50 AA. She now deployed to the western Pacific and reached the 100,000 arrested landing milestone in 1961.
Coral Sea made six combat deployments to Vietnam, starting in March 1965 and reaching to 1972, when her aircraft mined Haiphong harbor in May. After the peace accord of 1973, she supported the clearing of those same mines. She returned in April 1975 along with Midway to help evacuate American embassy staff from Saigon when the North overran the South. She then responded to the crisis of the American containership Mayaguez when it was seized by Khmer Rouge gunboats 12 May 1975, conducting airstrikes and later extracting American forces that had gone to rescue the civilian mariners.
Coral Sea received three Phalanx CIWS in 1980, the first ship with a permanent installation. It was originally intended to either retire her in 1982, or have her relieve the Lexington as the training carrier at Pensacola. However she soldiered on for another eight years, making deployments to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and then returning to the Atlantic Fleet in 1983 and a major overhaul. She made the last RF-8 Crusader deployment in 1982 and then the first all F/A-18 strike fighter wing in 1985.