Thousands of shipyard workers and navy veterans were exposed to asbestos on navy ships because many products manufactured with asbestos commonly made their way to the navy. This durable and fireproof material was considered cheap and effective for handling extreme temperatures and fire. Because of these miraculous properties, the mineral was deemed safe. It is now known that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma and other serious diseases.
Veterans Exposed to Asbestos on Navy Ships
Well documented is the asbestos exposure in the Navy caused by the government, itself. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that “several million people, U.S. Navy Veterans and employees in U.S. shipyards have been exposed to chrysotile asbestos products” while manufacturing military ships during World War II. Unfortunately, use of asbestos in the navy was common even after the war and until new safety regulations were introduced in the early 1970s.
All vehicles built for the navy before this time had bulkhead systems, steam pipes, insulation, electrical fixtures, ceiling tiles, boilers, and many other products that were constructed using asbestos on navy ships. This mineral was cheap and during WWII, when financers were scarce asbestos on navy ships was the material that solved several issues all at once. Because of all of the machinery involved in making these vehicles and vessels, heat was a major problem because fires could pop up while taking on the enemy. Asbestos could withstand this heat and was naturally fire retardant. It was also a great insulator and was used not only on parts but inside the ship walls in the mess hall and living quarters as well. Asbestos on navy ships was prevalent and unavoidable. It was the best option to use at the time. When ships were refurbished, the removal of asbestos also exposed civilian workers to the deadly substance. Asbestos was used in all branches of the military, but none exceeding the usage by the navy branch.
There were many occupations that could lead to asbestos on navy ships. There are certain naval occupations that were at the highest risk for asbestos exposure. They include:
- Engine Mechanic
- Electrician’s Mate
- Boiler Tender
- Machinist Mate
To make matters worse, military housing built prior to 1982 was constructed with products containing asbestos. Service men and women and other personnel who lived in military housing or worked near commercial or military shipyards were all potentially exposed to asbestos.
Because of the latency of mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related illnesses, decades later thousands of retired military and other personnel are finding out that their cold and flu-like symptoms are in fact mesothelioma cancer. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos on navy ships and have been given a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are legal options worth pursuing.