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Asbestos on Navy Ships

Asbestos was present on nearly every U.S. Navy ship for much of the 20th century. This widespread use has put Navy veterans at a high risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma Hope can help veterans exposed to asbestos on Navy ships file for VA benefits and access legal compensation. Let us provide the guidance and support you need.

Legally reviewed by: Brian J. Cooke

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Mesothelioma From Asbestos on Navy Ships

Anyone who worked on or near Navy ships from the early 1930s onward could have been exposed to asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer.

Asbestos-containing products were used in pipes, boilers, engine rooms, and countless other locations on naval ships to keep them fireproof and seaworthy.

When these materials were installed or repaired, they released clouds of asbestos. Navy personnel could easily breathe in or swallow airborne asbestos fibers without knowing it. Repeated exposure to asbestos fibers could cause mesothelioma to develop after 10-50 years.

“Members of the Navy were most likely to be exposed to asbestos because they were on ships for the longest period of time.”

Eric P.W. Hall, Major USAFR & Mesothelioma Hope Patient Advocate

If you are a veteran with mesothelioma from asbestos on Navy ships, you may be eligible for disability payouts, free or low-cost health care, and other benefits.

Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more about different types of financial support for military families affected by mesothelioma.

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  • Increase your disability rating
  • Receive legal compensation

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List of U.S. Navy Ships With Asbestos

The U.S. Navy used asbestos products in every ship built before the mid-1980s without knowing the health risks. Use our ship finder below to see if a ship you served on contained asbestos.

Auxiliary Ships

The U.S. Navy used auxiliary ships to support combat ships and other naval operations.

Several asbestos materials were used onboard auxiliary ships in things like gaskets, electrical wiring, soundproofing, and spray-on insulation.

Auxiliary ships that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Alacrity (MSO-520) – Minesweeper
  • USS Altair (AKS-32) – General stores issue ship
  • USS Beltrami (AK-162) – Cargo ship
  • USS Chickadee (AM-59) – Minesweeper
  • USS Dixie (AD-14) – Hull ship
  • USS Missouri (BB-63) – Battleship
  • USS Sperry (AS-12) – Destroyer tender
  • USS Trippe (FF-1075) – Frigate ship
  • USS Tortuga (LSD-46) – Amphibious ship

Battleships

Battleships were the backbone of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Their massive firepower and thick armor made them essential during naval battles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The interiors of battleships were insulated with asbestos-based products to protect them from enemy fire.

Battleships that contained asbestos include:

Navy ship USS Missouri
The USS Missouri (BB-63)
  • USS Arizona (BB-39)
  • USS Indiana (BB-58)
  • USS Iowa (BB-61)
  • USS Maryland (BB-46)
  • USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
  • USS Michigan (SSBN-727)
  • USS Missouri (BB-63)
  • USS North Carolina (BB-55)
  • USS Washington (BB-56)
  • USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

Get our Free Mesothelioma Guide shipped overnight to learn how you can pursue financial assistance if you served on Navy ships with asbestos.

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Cruisers

The versatile nature of Navy cruisers helped them fulfill a variety of roles, like escorting larger ships and destroying enemy warships. Asbestos was used in a wide range of equipment found on cruisers, from turbines to electrical wiring.

Cruisers that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Bainbridge (CGN-25)
  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52)
  • USS Fox (CG-33)
  • USS Houston (CL-81)
  • USS Long Beach (CGN-9)
  • USS Macon (CA-132)
  • USS Pittsburgh (CA-72)
  • USS South Carolina (CGN-37)
  • USS Valley Forge (CG-50)
  • USS Washington (CA-11)

Destroyers

Destroyers were used to escort larger ships and protect them against enemy submarines and aircraft. Asbestos-containing materials were used in valves, gaskets, and many other equipment on destroyers for over 50 years.

Destroyers that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Badger (DD-126)
  • USS Benner (DD-807)
  • USS Doyen (DD-280)
  • USS Fox (DD-234)
  • USS Healy (DD-672)
  • USS McFarland (DD-237)
  • USS Pringle (DD-477)
  • USS Swanson (DD-443)
  • USS Talbot (DD-114)
  • USS Uhlmann (DD-687)

Frigates

Navy frigates were equipped with sonar to detect submarines during World War II. Anyone who served on a frigate prior to the early 1980s may have been exposed to ship components made with asbestos.

Frigates that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Aylwin (FF-1081)
  • USS Bagley (FF-1069)
  • USS Blakely (FF-1072)
  • USS Connole (FF-1056)
  • USS Gallery (FFG-26)
  • USS Knox (FF-1052)
  • USS Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7)
  • USS Reasoner (FF-1063)
  • USS Stark (FFG-31)
  • USS Thach (FFG-43)

Minesweepers

From World War II onward, minesweepers played an essential role in destroying sea mines and allowing safe passage for other Navy ships. However, the Navy sailors who worked in close quarters on minesweepers were put at high risk of asbestos exposure.

Minesweepers that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Avenge (AM-423)
  • USS Defense (AM-317)
  • USS Energy (AM-43)
  • USS Indicative (AM-250)
  • USS Kingfisher (AM-25)
  • USS Peregrine (AM-373)
  • USS Surfbird (AM-383)
  • USS Triumph (AM-323)
  • USS Velocity (AM-128)
  • USS Waxwing (AM-389)

Submarines

The Navy relied heavily on submarines during and after World War II to gather intelligence and destroy enemy vessels. Submarines built before the early 1980s had a variety of asbestos-based materials onboard to keep them fireproof and resistant to corrosion from salt water.

Submarines that contained asbestos include:

  • USS Hammerhead (SSN-663)
  • USS James Madison (SSBN-627)
  • USS Kamehameha (SSN-642)
  • USS New York City (SSN-696)
  • USS Rasher (SS-269)
  • USS Salmon (SS-573)
  • USS Snook (SSN-592)
  • USS Spearfish (SS-190)
  • USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628)
  • USS Will Rogers (SSBN-659)

Norm’s Asbestos Exposure Story

Norm

Norm was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2010 after serving in the U.S. Navy, where he fabricated boilerplates for nuclear submarines.

His mesothelioma diagnosis came 61 years after he first started handling joint compound, floor tiles, and cement pipes made with asbestos.

“Norm had no idea that the materials he was working with on a daily basis would eventually result in a fatal disease. Not once during his long career working with asbestos was he ever warned about its hazards.”
Taylor Kerns, attorney for Norm, a Navy veteran and mesothelioma patient

Other U.S. Navy Ships With Asbestos

Asbestos use on amphibious warships, cutters, patrol boats, and other types of Navy ships also put veterans at risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer later in life.

Other types of Navy ships with asbestos-containing products include:

List of U.S. Shipyards with Asbestos

U.S. shipyards were crucial hubs for the construction, repair, and maintenance of naval and civilian vessels. Unfortunately, they also became hotspots for asbestos exposure because of the extensive use of asbestos products in shipbuilding.

Some shipyards that contained asbestos include:

  • Bethlehem Steel Shipyard (Maryland)
  • Brooklyn Navy Yard (New York)
  • Charleston Naval Shipyard (South Carolina)
  • Long Beach Naval Shipyard (California)
  • Mare Island Naval Shipyard (California)
  • Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (Virginia)
  • Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Virginia)
  • Philadelphia Naval Shipyard (Pennsylvania)
  • Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (Washington)

Navy Ship Jobs With a High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

All veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy ships that used asbestos were at risk of exposure, but some were in more danger than others.

Below-deck sailors and engineers worked in confined and poorly ventilated spaces like engine and boiler rooms where they could easily breathe in or swallow asbestos dust.

Jobs on Navy ships with the highest risk of exposure include:

Man repairing machinery on a U.S. Navy ship
Service members were exposed to asbestos when repairing machinery on U.S. Navy ships. Here a machinery repairman cuts a valve component.
  • Boilerman (BT): Worked in boiler rooms where asbestos was used as insulation around boilers and pipes
  • Electrician’s Mate (EM): Handled electrical wiring and components that were often insulated with asbestos
  • Engineman (EN): Operated and serviced engines that contained asbestos insulation
  • Fire Control Technician (FT): Worked near asbestos-insulated equipment to control ship weapons and fire systems
  • Hull Maintenance Technician (HT): Repaired and maintained the ship’s hull, including asbestos-lined bulkheads and decks
  • Machinist’s Mate (MM): Maintained and repaired machinery with asbestos-containing gaskets and insulation
  • Shipfitter (SF): Fabricated and assembled metal parts, frequently working in asbestos-insulated areas

Other High-Risk Jobs on Mesothelioma Navy Ships

Several other occupations exposed veterans to asbestos on Navy ships, including:

  • Engine room technicians
  • Gunnery technicians
  • Instrument technicians
  • Insulators and painters
  • Mechanics
  • Panel installers
  • Plumbers
  • Sonar technicians
  • Tile setters
  • Water tenders
  • Weapons specialists
  • Welders and steel fabricators

Get your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more about filing for VA benefits and pursuing financial compensation after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

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  • File for VA benefits
  • Increase your disability rating
  • Receive legal compensation

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What Asbestos-Containing Products Were Used on Naval Ships?

Asbestos-based materials were used to build every U.S. Navy ship from the 1930s to the early 1980s.

Asbestos-containing products found on Navy ships included:

  • Adhesives
  • Boilers
  • Capacitors and meters
  • Cement powder and mortar mix
  • Deck and floor tiles
  • Dielectric paper and relays
  • Electrical wire coatings
  • Fireboxes and liners
  • Gaskets
  • Instruments
  • Instrument paneling
  • Packings
  • Paint and wallboard
  • Pipe coverings
  • Pumps
  • Sealants
  • Soundproofing materials
  • Spray-on insulation
  • Valves

The image below shows the specific areas where asbestos on Navy ships could be found.

Locations of asbestos on Navy ships
Some areas of U.S. Navy ships used more asbestos than others. As shown above, the pump room, propulsion room, damage control room, and engine room were areas with a high risk of exposure.

Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits and Legal Compensation

Veterans who developed mesothelioma after working on Navy ships with asbestos can file for VA benefits and legal compensation.

VA Benefits

If you’re a former service member with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for veterans benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Mesothelioma disability claims pay nearly $4,000 a month if you’re married, and you don’t have to pay taxes on this money.

You may also be able to access free or low-cost medical care through the VA health care system, which includes specialized treatments and support services for mesothelioma patients.

lf you need daily caregiver support, the VA offers Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits as well.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Many veterans with mesothelioma have successfully sued the manufacturers of asbestos products responsible for their cancer. Money from a mesothelioma lawsuit can help cover medical bills, lost wages, and other unexpected expenses.

Mesothelioma lawsuits target the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products — not the military or the U.S. government.

Our partner law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy, has skilled lawyers and fellow veterans on staff who can fight for justice and compensation on your behalf.

The firm’s legal team has secured hundreds of millions of dollars for Navy veterans, including:

  • $4.68 million for a New Hampshire Navy veteran with mesothelioma who served on a destroyer
  • $3.84 million for a Navy machinist’s mate from Illinois with peritoneal mesothelioma linked to his service on an amphibious assault craft
  • $3.78 million for a Pennsylvania Navy veteran with mesothelioma who did mechanical work on destroyer escorts
  • $3.47 million to the family of a Tennessee Navy veteran with pleural mesothelioma who served on an aircraft carrier
  • $2.7 million for an Arizona Navy veteran who developed pleural mesothelioma from working as an electrician’s mate on cruisers

Get a Free Mesothelioma Case Review to see if our partner firm can help recover compensation for your family.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Some manufacturers of asbestos products tried to get out of paying lawsuit settlements by declaring bankruptcy. However, they were court-ordered to set aside money for current and future asbestos victims.

Today, over $30 billion is available in asbestos trust funds that can be accessed by Navy veterans with mesothelioma.

Victims of asbestos on Navy ships can file claims with these trusts to receive compensation for their medical bills, travel expenses, and other costs.

How We Can Help Veterans With Mesothelioma

Many U.S. Navy veterans were exposed to asbestos while bravely serving their country. While the risks of battling an enemy were known, the dangers of asbestos on Navy ships were not.

Navy veterans with mesothelioma deserve justice, VA benefits, and compensation for the harm they have suffered. Mesothelioma Hope can help you or a loved one file for disability benefits and pursue other forms of financial compensation.

Don’t wait: Contact our Patient Advocates to get the support you deserve.

Navy Ships With Asbestos FAQs

What was the toxic exposure on Navy ships?

Asbestos on Navy ships was the primary source of toxic exposure for military veterans. Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other serious diseases 10-50 years after someone is first exposed.

Up until the early 1980s, the Navy used asbestos for insulation, fireproofing, soundproofing, and preventing corrosion.

Asbestos-containing products could be found in boiler rooms, piping, pumps, gaskets, valves, turbines, and other high-temperature areas.

Where was asbestos used in ships?

Asbestos was used in nearly every part of U.S. Navy ships, exposing sailors and shipyard workers to health risks like mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Common areas where asbestos was used include:

  • Boilers, engines, and turbinesFirefighting suits and equipment
  • Floor tiles, adhesives, and deck coverings
  • Gaskets in pipe joints and valves
  • Steam and hot water pipes
  • Switchboard components
  • Wiring and electrical panels

When was asbestos removed from U.S. Navy ships?

Asbestos started being removed from Navy ships in the late 1980s once the health risks became more widely known. Asbestos removal was a large undertaking that often took place during regular ship maintenance and overhauls.

By the early 1990s, there was a strong push to reduce asbestos on active ships, but because it was so complex and expensive, it took a long time to fully remove it. Even today, some older ships might still contain some asbestos-containing products.

Can you sue the Navy for asbestos exposure?

No. You can’t sue the Navy or the U.S. government for exposure to asbestos on Navy ships, but you may be able to sue asbestos product manufacturers if you developed mesothelioma after working on a Navy ship.

Nearly all mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved out of court with an average settlement of between $1 million and $1.4 million.

Get your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to see if you can take legal action against the asbestos companies that caused your illness.

Attorney Brian CookeReviewed by:Brian J. Cooke

Partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Brian Cooke is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy and a proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran. With over 20 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of his clients, Brian has successfully secured millions in compensation for mesothelioma patients and their families.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2000
  • Handled Hundreds of Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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References
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  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts61.pdf
  3. American Cancer Society. Asbestos and Cancer Risk. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/chemicals/asbestos.html
  4. Britannica. (2023, August 29.) frigate. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.britannica.com/technology/frigate
  5. Department of Veterans Affairs, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf
  6. Franke, K., & Paustenbach, D. (n.d.). Government and Navy knowledge regarding health hazards of asbestos: A state of the science evaluation (1900 to 1970). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/08958378.2011.643417
  7. Lemen RA, Landrigan PJ. Sailors and the Risk of Asbestos-Related Cancer. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 9;18(16):8417. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168417
  8. Naval History and Heritage Command. (n.d.). 80-G-477163 USS Ajax (AR-6). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nara-series/80-g/80-G-470000/80-G-477163.html
  9. Naval History and Heritage Command. (n.d.). 80-G-K-4523 (Color) USS Missouri (BB-63). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-navy-ships/battleships/missouri-bb-63/80-G-K-4523.html
  10. Roggli V.L., Sharma A., Butnor K.J., Sporn T., Vollmer R.T. Malignant mesothelioma and occupational exposure to asbestos: A clinicopathological correlation of 1445 cases. Ultrastruct. Pathol. 2002;26:55–65. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from doi: 10.1080/01913120252959227
  11. UScarriers.net. (2023, August 24.) USS Mount Whitney LCC 20. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from http://www.uscarriers.net/lcc20history.htm
  12. Veterans asbestos exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/ 
  13. Viktor Lenac. USS Mount Whitney LCC-20. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://lenac.hr/Mastership/References/Uss-Mount-Whitney-LCC-20/
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