Originally used after the American Revolution as a site for building merchant vessels, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was purchased by the United States government in 1801, and became an active U.S. Navy shipyard in 1806. Since its inception, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has gone through several name changes, including New York Navy Yard, United States Navy Yard and the New York Naval Ship Yard. The Brooklyn Navy Yard has since made its mark in United States history as a key builder of ships that have been used for the wars in which the U.S. fought until 1966, when the Navy Yard was closed after production slowed and a devastating fire.
Similar to many naval yards, the Brooklyn Navy Yard experienced a production boom prior to and during World War II, as war efforts demanded the rapid manufacture of equipment, ammunitions and vessels. During the Civil War, the Yard served as a key depot for the distribution of supplies to the Union fleet. One of the first ships constructed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was the USS Ohio, followed by the USS Maine, which was launched and commissioned in 1895. Three years later, the Maine was sunk, leading to the beginning of the Spanish-American War.
World War I sparked an employment boom at the Yard, increasing the workforce from 8,000 to 18,000. It was at this time that the USS Arizona was built, and became known as one of the biggest and most powerful ships ever built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Arizona was bombed and sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, engaging the United States in World War II. During World War II, the workforce at the Yard reached its peak and expanded to 70,000 employees, and for the first time, women were hired to work at the Yard as mechanics and technicians. Because of the booming employment opportunities, the Yard also became an extensive facility that included a power plant, radio station, railroad spur, and two steel shipways, as well as six pontoons. From the end of World War II until the early 1960s the Brooklyn Navy Yard launched and commissioned an additional 30 naval vessels, including the USS Saratoga, USS Independence and USS Constellation.
At the height of its ship production, the Brooklyn Navy Yard contained all the materials and machinery necessary to construct and repair naval vessels. Work done on the vessels included electrical, insulation and pipefitting. Prior to the 1970s, shipyards used asbestos in the construction and repair of naval vessels due to its fire resistant properties. During construction and maintenance of ships, insulators, electricians, plumbers, welders and pipefitters may have been exposed to asbestos-containing materials, such as pipe insulation, gaskets and cement. Those who also worked near or in the vicinity of those who repaired and maintained asbestos-containing materials were also at risk for exposure to asbestos fibers.
Our attorneys have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos containing products to which our clients were exposed. If you or a loved one once worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free case evaluation.