Navy Ships with Asbestos: A Tragic Military Mistake

U.S. veterans who worked on navy ships with asbestos have a significantly heightened risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. Out of the 10,000 Americans diagnosed with medical conditions linked to asbestos exposure each year, nearly a third are former members of the U.S. Navy. Though asbestos-made products were used across every branch of the military, none came even close to matching the volume and frequency with which they were employed by the Navy.

A Military Mandate with Unforeseen Consequences

In the years between the First World War and the Korean Conflict, the Navy was required to produce an unusually high volume of combat vessels. During that period, virtually every area of the construction industry had been inundated with an abundance of asbestos products. It was considered especially well suited for combat-grade construction because of two important qualities necessary for withstanding enemy attack: exceptional durability and a natural resistance to heat and fire.

In the middle of its shipbuilding peak, the U.S. Navy issued a branch-wide mandate requiring that all vessels be constructed with asbestos products to the greatest degree possible. In addition to the coveted intrinsic qualities that asbestos held, it was also relatively inexpensive, abundantly available and readily acquired-all factors that contributed to the executive decision to begin constructing all navy ships with asbestos.

Industry Secrets and Deadly Results

It is now widely acknowledged that manufacturers of asbestos products were well aware of the serious health risks associated with exposure in humans, as far back as the 1920s. These known dangers, however, were kept hidden from the public in what has become one of the most tragic corporate cover-ups of our time.

As a result, hundreds of thousands have fallen ill over the course of the past several decades-afflicted by a range of illnesses caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. The most serious of these conditions, malignant mesothelioma, is a universally terminal form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart and stomach. Because asbestos-related diseases have an unusually long latency period, they are not generally discovered until in advanced stages-typically, decades after the period of initial exposure.

Liability and Compensation for Veterans’ Mesothelioma

For the thousands of veterans whose lives have been forever changed after working on navy ships with asbestos, there are routes to legal recourse and compensation. More than 700,000 victims have already filed suit against the manufacturing giants responsible for negligently exposing them to a known carcinogen, with the help of attorneys who specialize in asbestos-injury litigation. Settlements and trial awards in such cases, when successful, tend to be substantial-averaging a million dollars or more.

The military has acknowledged the plight of veterans affected by asbestos exposure while enlisted, and disability benefits are available to those victims and their families through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). For help filing a claim, visit your local VA office or contact an attorney who specializes in asbestos-related personal injuries.