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Asbestos on Destroyers

Asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral, was used aboard over 900 U.S. Navy destroyers until the early 1980s. Anyone who served aboard these destroyers could be at risk of cancers like mesothelioma today. Find out if a United States Navy destroyer you served on used asbestos and learn how to get military benefits and compensation for mesothelioma.

Fact-Checked and Updated by: Jenna Tozzi, RN

Last updated:

Asbestos on Destroyers and Mesothelioma Risks

Asbestos could be found in all U.S. Navy ships, including destroyers, for decades. Destroyers were built with asbestos to keep them fireproof and sturdy.

Yet asbestos exposure can cause service members to develop cancers like mesothelioma 10-50 years later.

Key Facts About Asbestos on Destroyers

  • Uses: Cooling ship components, providing insulation, soundproofing, and protecting against corrosion
  • Locations: Boiler rooms, gaskets, pumps, valves, engine rooms, pipes, gearing, wiring, and wherever heat resistance or insulation was needed
  • Exposure: Could occur when machinist’s mates, boiler tenders, or other Navy personnel worked around asbestos and disturbed it

U.S. veterans who bravely served their country don’t deserve to develop mesothelioma from asbestos on destroyers. Unfortunately, former service members continue to be diagnosed with this cancer every year.

The Mesothelioma Hope team is here to assist U.S. veterans with mesothelioma in any way we can. We can help you file for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), connect you with top doctors and treatment, and pursue legal claims for compensation.

Get started by downloading our Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

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

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List of Navy Destroyers That Used Asbestos

Over 900 U.S. Navy destroyers were built with asbestos-containing products before the health risks were known. If you served aboard one of these vessels, you could now be at risk of mesothelioma.

Some of the destroyers that used asbestos included:

  • USS Abner Read (DD-526)
  • USS Aulick (DD-258)
  • USS Badger (DD-126)
  • USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
  • USS Benner (DD-807)
  • USS Caperton (DD-650)
  • USS Chevalier (DD-451)
  • USS Doyen (DD-280)
  • USS Dunlap (DD-384)
  • USS Earle (DD-635)
  • USS English (DD-696)
  • USS Fechteler (DD-870)
  • USS Fox (DD-234)
  • USS Gleaves (DD-423)
  • USS Gyatt (DD-712
  • USS Healy (DD-672)
  • USS Henshaw (DD-278)
  • USS Irwin (DD-794)
  • USS Israel (DD-98)
  • USS Jarvis (DD-393)
  • USS John A. Bole (DD-755)
  • USS Johnston (DD-557)
  • USS Kearny (DD-432)
  • USS Kennison (DD-138)
  • USS Knapp (DD-653)
  • USS Lang (DD-399)
  • USS Lansdowne (DD-486)
  • USS Laws (DD-558)
  • USS MacLeish (DD-220)
  • USS Mayo (DD-422)
  • USS McFarland (DD-237)
  • USS Moosbrugger (DD-980)
  • USS Myles C. Fox (DD-829)
  • USS Newcomb (DD-586)
  • USS Nields (DD-616)
  • USS Oldendorf (DD-972)
  • USS Owen (DD-536)
  • USS Palmer (DD-161)
  • USS Peterson (DD-969)
  • USS Pringle (DD-477)
  • USS Pope (DD-225)
  • USS Remey (DD-688)
  • USS Rooks (DD-804)
  • USS Sands (DD-243)
  • USS Scott (DD-995)
  • USS Southard (DD-207)
  • USS Spruance (DD-963)
  • USS Stickell (DD-888)
  • USS Swanson (DD-443)
  • USS Talbot (DD-114)
  • USS Tracy (DD-214)
  • USS Uhlmann (DD-687)
  • USS Vogelgesang (DD-862)
  • USS Wadleigh (DD-689)
  • USS Waters (DD-115)
  • USS Watts (DD-567)
  • USS Woodworth (DD-460)
  • USS Yarborough (DD-314)
  • USS Zellars (DD-777)

The list above contains just a few of the destroyers known to have used asbestos. You may have been exposed even if your ship isn’t listed above.

See if there was asbestos on your destroyer.

Call us at (866) 608-8933 now to find out if a ship you served on was built with asbestos products.

Why Did the U.S. Navy Use Asbestos on Destroyers?

Asbestos-containing products helped safeguard U.S. Navy destroyers and make them more sturdy. In fact, government mandates required the use of asbestos on all U.S. Navy ships before the risks were fully known.

The Navy used asbestos on destroyers because it:

  • Cooled down the engines and boilers
  • Helped them cut costs (asbestos was cheap)
  • Provided soundproofing
  • Reduced the risk of fires
  • Was thought to be safe since product manufacturers hid the risks

Destroyers built with asbestos were used before World War II and up through the Cold War. This means that anyone who served on a destroyer during this time could have been exposed to asbestos.

Who Was Exposed to Asbestos on Destroyers?

Any U.S. Navy veterans who served on destroyers may have been exposed to asbestos.

This is because when asbestos-based products wore down or were disturbed, they released fibers that could linger in the air until they were removed or contained. Since destroyers and Navy vessels were often cramped, anyone aboard could have inhaled stray fibers.

That said, Navy veterans at the greatest risk of mesothelioma worked with asbestos on destroyers every day as part of their on-ship duties.

These Navy jobs had a high risk of asbestos exposure:

  • Boilermakers
  • Electricians
  • Hull workers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Shipyard workers
  • Steamfitters
  • Welders

These Navy service members could have breathed in or swallowed asbestos fibers on a daily basis.

Once the fibers enter the body, they can get trapped inside and cause inflammation that leads to asbestos-related illnesses, like asbestosis, pleural plaques, or mesothelioma.

Get help after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

You may qualify for VA benefits and compensation if you served on a Navy destroyer and now have mesothelioma. Call (866) 608-8933 to learn more.

How Was Asbestos Used on Destroyers?

Asbestos-containing materials could be found throughout destroyers for over 50 years.

Notable products made with asbestos on destroyers included:

  • Boilers
  • Electrical wiring
  • Gaskets
  • Piping
  • Pumps
  • Turbines
  • Valves

If you or a loved one worked with or around these products while serving on a Navy destroyer, you could have been exposed to asbestos.

“I was a boiler tender when I went aboard my first ship and started doing my first job. I asked them what the material was made out of and they told me it was asbestos.

Asbestos didn’t kill anybody on the spot, that’s for sure, but it took years later to start catching up with us.”

— Walter Twidwell, U.S. Navy veteran with mesothelioma

Compensation for Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

Navy veterans and loved ones facing mesothelioma after serving on destroyers or other ships have several options to seek compensation for their illness.

Top ways to get compensation include:

  • VA benefits: VA benefits typically award nearly $4,000 each month to U.S. veterans with mesothelioma as of 2024. Veterans can also get medical care for free or at a reduced cost with VA health care. Our team can help you file a VA disability claim or increase your existing benefits.
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits: Our attorneys can file mesothelioma lawsuits on your behalf. These lawsuits usually pay out $1 million or more and are never filed against the military or government. Rather, the lawsuits demand that asbestos companies — which hid the risks of asbestos — pay for the harm they’ve caused. You can file a lawsuit and still get VA benefits too.
  • Asbestos trust funds: Many asbestos companies were forced to set up trust funds after filing for bankruptcy. There’s more than $30 billion set aside in these trusts today. Our partner law firm can file trust fund claims on your behalf if you qualify.

Learn more about your financial options after a mesothelioma diagnosis in our Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

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

Get Your Free Guide

Settlement Amounts for Veterans Exposed to Asbestos on Destroyers

The mesothelioma law firm we’ve partnered with has secured millions of dollars for U.S. veterans who developed mesothelioma after serving on destroyers.

Notable mesothelioma settlements secured by our partner law firm include:

  • $4.68 million for a New Hampshire Navy veteran with mesothelioma who served on the USS Fred T. Berry
  • $3.3 million for an Illinois boiler tender who worked on the USS Mervine, USS Sea Runner and USS Harwood and later developed pleural mesothelioma
  • $3.15 million for a Minnesota resident with pleural mesothelioma who served 10 years as a boilerman on the USS Conway and USS Humphrey
  • $2.96 million for a North Carolina Navy machinist mate who developed mesothelioma after working on the USS Moale
  • $2.7 million for an Arizona electrician’s mate who served on the USS Hamul and USS Lea and was later diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma

Our team may be able to help you get significant compensation as well, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Help for Veterans Exposed to Asbestos on Destroyers

Far too many brave U.S. Navy veterans were exposed to asbestos on destroyers and now suffer from mesothelioma and other illnesses.

The Mesothelioma Hope team is here to help these veterans and their loved ones navigate life after a cancer diagnosis.

We can help mesothelioma patients like you:

  • Access medical and financial VA benefits
  • Connect with top doctors and cancer centers
  • File legal claims to potentially get $1 million+

To get started, call (866) 608-8933 to connect with our Patient Advocates or download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

On behalf of the entire Mesothelioma Hope team, thank you for serving our country.

Asbestos on Destroyers FAQs

Is there still asbestos on Navy ships?

Only a handful of older U.S. Naval ships still use asbestos. In these cases, the ships were built before the dangers of asbestos were known, and the products in question do not pose a threat to human health.

No U.S. Navy destroyers currently in use contain asbestos.

The oldest active destroyers date back to the 1990s, according to a review of the Naval Vessel Register, and they were built after the Navy stopped using asbestos.

When did asbestos stop being used in ships?

The U.S. military stopped using asbestos in Navy destroyers and other ships in the 1980s. However, some older Navy ships, bases, and other assets may still have asbestos inside.

Further, Navy veterans are being diagnosed with mesothelioma today even though they were exposed to asbestos on destroyers decades ago since this cancer takes 10-50 years to form.

Connect with us now to get help if you developed mesothelioma after serving on a U.S. Navy destroyer.

Is asbestos banned on ships?

There isn’t an official ban on using asbestos on Navy destroyers or other ships. However, no branches of the U.S. military use asbestos in new construction due to the health risks.

There are currently no active U.S. Navy destroyers that use asbestos. A small handful of other Navy ships do have lingering asbestos-containing products aboard, though.

What toxins are on Navy ships?

One of the most notable toxins used aboard Navy ships, like destroyers, was asbestos.

This fiber-like mineral was used on over 900 Navy destroyers and thousands of other Navy ships between the 1930s and early 1980s.

For much of this time, the U.S. Navy and the general public didn’t know asbestos was toxic. This is because manufacturers of asbestos-containing products hid the risks for decades.

Asbestos exposure is now known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

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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  1. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (2016, November 3). Health Effects of Asbestos. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from
  2. Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. Destroyers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2024, from
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (2023, July 18). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from
  4. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (2022, March 2). Researching Asbestos aboard US Naval Vessel up through 1961. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from
  5. Naval Vessel Register (n.d.). Active Vessels. Retrieved May 16, 2024, from
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