Navy veterans are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure that occurred in naval shipyards and aboard Navy ships prior to the late 1970s. Every branch of the military utilized asbestos materials in some capacity, but Navy veterans are at an especially high risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer due to the widespread and substantial use of asbestos-containing materials aboard Navy ships. Almost every Navy ship commissioned between 1930 and the late 1970s contained asbestos materials.
Aboard a ship, Navy personnel were frequently exposed to asbestos dust in boiler rooms, engine rooms, navigation rooms, weapons and ammunition storage rooms, mess halls and sleeping quarters. Working, living and sleeping in tight quarters with poor ventilation and asbestos dust floating in the air, puts many United States Navy veterans at risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer many years after they served their country. This is because symptoms of malignant mesothelioma may not surface for thirty to fifty years after asbestos exposure.
Asbestos-containing materials could be found throughout most areas of a naval vessel. Asbestos materials were applied to or used in a variety of equipment, including, but not limited to, boilers, pumps, turbines, valves and pipes. Asbestos was used in wall insulation and in flooring materials. Due to its fire-resistant properties, asbestos insulation was applied to most hot surfaces aboard ships. Asbestos insulation served as an insulator, keeping steam lines warm and refrigerated equipment cool. Many asbestos-containing products, including, but not limited to pipe-covering, fireproofing material, gaskets, insulating cement, joint compound and block insulation, were used aboard Navy ships.
Asbestos materials were used on the following Navy ships:
- Aircraft Carriers
- Amphibious Warships
- Auxiliary Ships
- Destroyer Escorts
- Escort Carriers
- Merchant Marine Ships
- Patrol Boats
From World War I up through the end of the Vietnam War, both Navy personnel and civilians were unknowingly exposed to high concentrations of asbestos dust when working aboard Navy ships and in naval shipyards. When ships were built or underwent an overhaul, asbestos materials were applied and disturbed, which emitted tremendous amounts of asbestos dust into the air. Prior to the late 1970s, most Navy personnel were not aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure and did not wear masks or protective gear to protect them from these hazards.
Navy Veterans and civilians who built or repaired Navy ships are at an extremely high risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. If you served in the Navy or worked in a shipyard and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.