Asbestos Risks on Navy Ships
The use of asbestos in the construction and maintenance of ships in the U.S. Navy fleet has caused countless Navy veterans to be exposed to the cancer-causing mineral. Asbestos exposure is known to cause many serious lung diseases, including mesothelioma cancer, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis.
Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease can get information about their legal rights to seek compensation for their illness by completing the form on this page.
Since the Continental Congress first authorized the creation of the U.S. Navy in 1775 until the present time, thousands of Navy ships were constructed and commissioned to serve as part of the Navy fleet. Over the course of the first 100+ years of our nation’s history, steamships and other military vessels served the nation in both wartime conflicts and peacetime operations.
As the industrial revolution made its impact on the construction of naval vessels in the 20th century, the ships built both before, during and after the WWII era until the 1970s were built using asbestos materials in a number of areas aboard ship, causing those aboard to be exposed to the dangerous mineral.
If you are interested in learning more about a particular ship in the U.S. Navy fleet, click here for more information.
High Asbestos Exposure Risks Below Deck
Many of the areas aboard ship where asbestos was used placed those assigned to jobs below deck to be exposed to dangerous asbestos dust on an almost daily basis. In particular, those working in the engine room, boiler rooms and pump rooms routinely worked with asbestos-containing insulation materials in these areas of the ship. Many Navy veterans who worked in these areas of the ship also reported they routinely helped to sweep out asbestos-contaminated dusts from these areas, most times without masks or other protective equipment.
Another area of the ship where asbestos levels were at dangerously high levels was the shell or powder rooms aboard naval warships and in the magazines where gunners and gunners’ mates were assigned. The crew members working in these areas would often wear protective clothing made of asbestos-containing felt, and the entry to the magazine area was also made of this same felt material.
The pipes that ran throughout the ship were typically covered in asbestos insulation, including the pipes on the ceilings in crew quarters. Many Navy veterans tell similar stories about the dust that would fall from these pipes onto their bunks. During maneuvers or in combat situations, the vibrations from the discharge of weapons would cause even more dust to fall from the pipes.
Asbestos Risks at Navy Yards and Navy Bases
When ships went into dry dock for repair or refitting at a Navy Yard, the crew members assigned to carry out the repairs or refits were also exposed to the dangerous mineral, most times without masks or other protective clothing. The asbestos hazards at Navy Yards also meant that enlisted personnel, offers and civilians working at the nation’s Navy shipyards were also put at risk for exposure.
During the WWII era and beyond, thousands of construction workers enlisted into the Navy to serve as Seabees. These men constructed military bases, airport runways, roads and bridges that served the allied forces during WWII, and routinely worked with many asbestos products used in the construction industry at the time.
Time Between Asbestos Exposure and Diagnosis of Disease is Many Decades Long
For those who develop asbestos disease, their first exposure to the dangerous carcinogen likely took place 30-40 or more years before their diagnosis. This period of time is known as the latency period.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they cannot be exhaled or expelled from the lungs by coughing or sneezing. This is caused by the microscopic structure of asbestos fibers, which have sharp, jagged edges that causes them to attach to lung tissue.
During the long latency period, the asbestos fibers can gradually cause healthy lung tissue to scar. Once scarring becomes significant, patients will develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain and lack of energy. The scarring can cause chronic lung or pulmonary diseases such as asbestosis, pleural plaques disease, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In more serious cases, the asbestos will trigger the lungs to begin to produce abnormal cells. These abnormal cells can eventually develop into lung cancer tumors or mesothelioma.
Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help Families Affected by Asbestos Disease
If you or a loved one worked has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we may be able to help you to seek justice for your illness and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
A Weitz & Luxenberg representative will contact you as soon as possible.