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Mesothelioma and U.S. Navy Veterans

U.S. Navy veterans are more likely to develop mesothelioma than those who served in other military branches. This is because asbestos — the only known cause of this cancer — was used throughout naval ships, vehicles, and bases for decades. Learn how Navy veterans with mesothelioma can pursue military benefits, health care, and legal compensation.

Legally Reviewed and Fact-Checked by: Christopher R. Guinn

Updated by: Laura Wright on

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Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Navy

Veterans who served in the U.S. Navy were often exposed to asbestos at higher rates than those who served in other military branches.

The Navy relied on asbestos to build ships because the material was fireproof and resistant to salt corrosion. Many asbestos product manufacturers hid the dangers related to their products.

As a result, Navy veterans are at a greater risk of mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

1 in 3 mesothelioma cases can be linked to U.S. Navy or shipyard asbestos exposure.

U.S. Navy Veterans & Mesothelioma Video Thumbnail

Eric Hall, a veteran and VA-accredited attorney, notes why U.S. Navy veterans could be at risk of mesothelioma and how those affected can get VA benefits. Call us today at (866) 608-8933 to learn more. View Transcript.

Duration: 1 min 01 sec

Military members who served between the 1930s and 1980s were very likely exposed to asbestos, particularly in the Navy because asbestos was used throughout the ships to insulate pipes and insulate their boiler systems.

And being that you were a sailor on a ship, you would’ve likely been on ship for months at any given time. And that’s why we see the highest rate of mesothelioma cases in Navy veterans.

Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases are entitled to several different types of benefits from the VA, to include disability benefits, health care benefits, there are even survivor benefits for those with asbestos-related diseases.

If a veteran believes they were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, we encourage them to call Mesothelioma Hope so that we can work together to help them file for VA benefits.

Mesothelioma Hope is committed to helping veterans with mesothelioma file for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to get monthly payments and free or low-cost health care.

We can also help mesothelioma Navy veterans pursue financial compensation through private legal claims.

Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide now to see all the ways that we can help former service members facing a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Free Downloadable GuideVeterans Compensation Guide
  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

Get Your Free Guide

U.S. Navy Ships and Asbestos Exposure Risk

Every U.S. Navy ship built between the 1930s and the early 1980s was constructed with asbestos-containing products because of their durability. As a result, asbestos could be found throughout U.S. Navy ships.

Naval vessels were cramped and had poor ventilation. When asbestos-based products were repaired or disturbed, the fibers could linger in the air and be inhaled or swallowed by sailors or deckhands.

The ingestion of asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases. Symptoms of these diseases may take 10-50 years to develop.

The image below shows the areas where asbestos often lurked on naval vessels.

Locations of asbestos on Navy ships

More specifically, asbestos was often found in:

  • Boiler rooms
  • Bulkheads
  • Deck flooring
  • Engine rooms
  • Fireproofing materials
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Pipe lagging
  • Pumps
  • Seals
  • Valves

See if a ship that you served on contained asbestos using our free search tool.

Asbestos Exposure in Navy Shipyards

Navy shipyard workers were especially at risk of developing mesothelioma since they handled and worked around asbestos materials regularly. According to a report by The New York Times, asbestos dust was so thick in World War II shipyards that workers “often could not see across a room.”

The map below shows where naval shipyards were located throughout the country.

Location of Navy shipyards in the United States


Other Sources of Navy Asbestos Exposure

Ships and shipyards weren’t the only sources of Navy asbestos exposure.

The Navy also used asbestos in:

Get our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to see what benefits are available to military families affected by asbestos-related illnesses.

Free Downloadable GuideVeterans Compensation Guide
  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

Get Your Free Guide

Navy Jobs With High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Since the U.S. Navy was one of the largest consumers of asbestos-containing products, many service members could not avoid asbestos exposure while serving our country.

Every Navy service member exposed to asbestos while on duty was put at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases later in life. However, some Navy occupations were more likely to come into contact with asbestos than others.

High-risk U.S. Navy jobs include:

Many of these jobs required Navy veterans to work with asbestos-containing products daily. As workers handled or manipulated these products, tiny asbestos fibers could be released into the air.

Navy personnel were at risk of inhaling or swallowing these microscopic fibers and developing diseases like mesothelioma decades later.

Support for Navy Veterans Exposed to Asbestos: Jim’s Path to Recovery

Jim Gahan served in the Navy as a boiler technician for 20 years on ships like the USS Independence, USS Truckee, and USS Vulcan. Working near the vessels’ boilers, valves, and other asbestos-containing parts exposed Jim to asbestos fibers and caused him to develop mesothelioma.

Thankfully, Jim was able to secure compensation that helped him afford treatment and extend his life expectancy, allowing him to spend more time with his family.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can connect you with a specialist for treatment. Use our Free Doctor Match to find medical help near you.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure

The health risks associated with asbestos exposure were not limited to members of the military. Navy veterans often came home with asbestos fibers stuck to their clothes or hair.

Family members who washed the contaminated clothing or otherwise came in contact with the asbestos fibers were at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases decades later. This is known as secondhand asbestos exposure.

Family members who lived on base may have also been exposed to asbestos in Navy housing, office buildings, construction sites, and other areas.

Benefits for Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

Today, U.S. Navy veterans who developed mesothelioma cancer after military asbestos exposure may be entitled to health care benefits and disability compensation through the VA.

To qualify for VA benefits, Navy veterans must have been:

  1. Exposed to asbestos while they served
  2. Honorably discharged from the Navy
  3. Diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease

Mesothelioma Navy VA Benefits

U.S. Navy veterans and their families can access different types of VA benefits depending on their needs.

Mesothelioma Navy VA benefits include:

  • Disability compensation: Veterans can receive disability benefits for asbestos-related illnesses. As of 2023, the VA awards $3,823.89 monthly to married veterans with mesothelioma who are 100% disabled.
  • VA Aid & Attendance (A&A): This is a form of additional compensation for veterans who need help with daily tasks like dressing and bathing.
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC): Spouses and dependents can receive monthly VA DIC payments if a veteran passes away from mesothelioma.
  • VA health care: Navy veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for VA health care benefits. The VA is affiliated with several top mesothelioma specialists who help Navy veterans access life-extending treatments.
  • Other VA benefits: Veterans and their spouses can apply for other VA benefits like pensions, reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses, and more.

Mesothelioma Hope can help you apply for all of the mesothelioma Navy benefits you qualify for. Call (866) 608-8933 to get started. It costs nothing to speak to a member of our team.

Legal Claims and Settlement Amounts

Outside of mesothelioma Navy benefits through the VA, there are other ways that veterans can pursue compensation to help pay for medical treatments and take care of their families.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

A mesothelioma attorney can file a mesothelioma lawsuit and pursue a Navy asbestos settlement on a veteran’s behalf.

Filing a lawsuit does not affect a veteran’s ability to access VA benefits. Further, mesothelioma lawsuits are filed against asbestos companies — not the military or the U.S. government.

Mesothelioma settlements award between $1 million to 1.4 million on average, while verdicts award between $5 million to $11.4 million on average.

Notable lawsuit payouts for U.S. Navy veterans include:

  • $40.1 million to a boiler tender living in Washington
  • $3.4 million for a USS St. Louis, USS Dash, and USS Assurance crew member
  • $3 million for a telephone technician in California
  • $2.4 million for a millwright in Pennsylvania

Walter Twidwell received a payout of $40 million after taking legal action against the asbestos companies that caused him to develop mesothelioma. He served in the Navy for nearly 20 years and was later diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

“I didn’t want to sue my government and I damn sure didn’t want to sue the Navy because they’re still feeding me. I wasn’t suing the government, I wasn’t suing the U.S. Navy, I was suing the manufacturer.”
– Walter Twidwell, U.S. Navy Boiler Tender

A mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans file private mesothelioma claims and pursue compensation. Mesothelioma Navy compensation can help pay for life-extending treatments and secure your family’s future.

Filing Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Bankrupt asbestos companies were court-ordered to set aside money as compensation for current and future victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Today, there’s more than $30 billion set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate patients and their families. In many cases, mesothelioma Navy veterans may be able to file claims with multiple trusts, increasing their potential payout.

Although the asbestos claim payout time line varies in each case, many mesothelioma veterans start to get trust fund money in as little as 90 days. Additionally, filing a trust fund claim can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Get your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to see the types of financial aid available to Navy veterans with mesothelioma.

Free Downloadable GuideVeterans Compensation Guide
  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

Get Your Free Guide

VA Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Mesothelioma Navy veterans may be able to extend their life expectancy with chemotherapy, surgery, and other treatment methods. Veterans can access the many of the latest mesothelioma treatments from top doctors who work within the VA health care system.

Two well-known VA mesothelioma doctors include:

  • Dr. Robert Cameron

    Dr. Robert Cameron

    Dr. Cameron is a world-renowned oncological surgeon known for his development of the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) surgery. Dr. Cameron leads the mesothelioma program at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

  • Dr. Taylor Ripley

    Dr. Taylor Ripley

    In addition to seeing patients at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Dr. Taylor Ripley works closely with colleagues at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center to treat veterans with mesothelioma.

Some VA cancer centers that treat mesothelioma include:

We can get you in touch with VA-affiliated mesothelioma specialists and cancer centers in your area. Find top doctors for free today.

File for Navy Mesothelioma VA Benefits & Compensation

If you or a loved one is a veteran with mesothelioma, a lawyer accredited by the VA can help you file for benefits and gather the information needed to submit your claim.

Mesothelioma Hope has a dedicated team of VA-accredited claims agents who are standing by to answer your questions and seek the compensation you deserve.

Call us now at (866) 608-8933 to get started or download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more.


Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans FAQs

Are Navy veterans exposed to asbestos?

Yes. Many U.S. Navy veterans were likely exposed to asbestos if they served before the 1980s, when asbestos in the Navy could be found throughout ships, vehicles, and bases.

After the dangers of asbestos became known in the early 1980s, the Navy stopped using it to build new ships and took steps to remove or seal existing asbestos.

How much do Navy veterans get for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma case values can vary due to factors like which asbestos-based products you were exposed to and the total cost of your medical expenses.

However, the average mesothelioma lawsuit settlement is between $1 million to $1.4 million.

The best way to learn how much your case is worth is to speak with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.

Is there still asbestos on Navy ships?

While some older U.S. Navy ships still have asbestos aboard, it is well-secured and doesn’t pose a threat to human health.

After the dangers of asbestos became well known in the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy stopped using it to make new ships. The military also completed a major asbestos abatement program and removed or safely sealed asbestos-based parts on older U.S. Navy ships.

Why do U.S. Navy veterans get mesothelioma?

U.S. Navy veterans have a high rate of mesothelioma because of the Navy’s widespread use of asbestos products in naval ships and shipyards.

The small and confined nature of Navy vessels also contributed to the problem. Sailors typically spent months at sea in close quarters with poor circulation, putting them at risk of inhaling asbestos dust whenever asbestos-containing materials were repaired or disturbed.

Mesothelioma Hope can help mesothelioma Navy veterans access VA benefits and explore their legal options. Call one of our Patient Advocates at (866) 608-8933 right now to learn more.

Reviewed by:Christopher R. Guinn

Partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Air Force Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Chris Guinn is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy. Since he joined the firm in 2004, Chris has dedicated his practice to representing mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease victims and has recovered millions of dollars on their behalf.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2004
  • Worked on 300+ Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Air Force
Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Absher, J. (2020, October 07). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved August 31, 2023, from
  2. Battaile, J. (n.d.). A life-saving mineral, once compulsory, is now nearly prohibited. Retrieved August 31, 2023, from
  3. Naval History and Heritage Command. USS Guam (CB-2). Retrieved August 31, 2023, from–cb-2-0.html
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 veterans disability compensation rates. Retrieved August 31, 2023, from

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