US Navy Vets
Through centuries of war, members of the United States Navy have always been present to help defend the country. Whether on land or on the high seas, naval officers and their charges have been integral in fighting and winning battles that ultimately helped win wars.
That was certainly during the World War II era when the Navy was at its strongest and millions of men and women eagerly served this branch of the U.S. military. Many of these individuals were stationed aboard the nation's impressive fleet of ships - including aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, battleships, cruises, submarines, destroyers, minesweepers, and others. Others remained on land.
US Navy Vets and Asbestos
From the days before World War II until the mid 1970s, nearly every ship that was manned by U.S. Navy personnel contained asbestos. Because fire and heat resistance was considered to be of the utmost importance aboard these vessels, asbestos was literally everywhere - not only in expected places like the boiler or gun rooms but also in mess halls, galleys, and sleeping quarters. Exposure was inescapable.
The US Navy has long kept detailed records of its ships and these records have been used - sometimes in courts of law - to identify the presence of various asbestos-containing products or parts. These parts include various technical instruments, meters, paneling, packing material, prefabricated forms, tubes, cables, capacitors, block insulation, pipe covering, deck covering materials, adhesives, insulation felts, thermal materials, gaskets, mortar, aggregate mixtures, rods, valves, boilers, bonds, compounds, bedding compounds, coatings, packing assemblies, hydraulic assemblies, and grinders.
US Navy vets served not only aboard ship during active duty, but also toiled at the Navy's many shipyards. They may have been responsible for a variety of duties while on land, including the repair and maintenance of ships as they arrived back at port after a hard voyage at sea. It wasn't unusual for repair personnel to rip, saw, cut, drill, or sand asbestos-containing materials, which in turn caused airborne asbestos fibers to circulate through the air. Most personnel did not consider this to be a problem as they were uninformed of the dangers of working with this hazardous mineral, even though higher ranking military officials may have already been aware of asbestos' toxicity.
As a result, many US Navy vets have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. A particular rise in the rates of such diseases has occurred during the past 20 years, since these diseases lay dormant in the body, often for three to five decades.
Unfortunately, US Navy vets who developed asbestos cancer due to their time served in the military cannot sue the US government for damages. They can, however, file suit against companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products used aboard ships. Navy veterans who have asbestos-related diseases should contact an attorney immediately to determine their rights.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.