Asbestos Use on Patrol Boats

United States Navy ships built before 1980 contain large quantities of asbestos, putting the numerous Navy and civilian personnel who worked on them at an increased risk for serious diseases. Patrol Boats are among those ships built using large quantities of asbestos.

Written and Fact-Checked by: Laura Wright

About U.S. Navy Patrol Boats

United States Navy Patrol Boats were constructed to carry men and supplies along coastlines and river-ways. Carrying out operations in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the patrol boats were vital in strategic advantages for the United States.

Unlike large aircraft carriers, patrol boats were smaller vessels known for their agility and quickness.

Patrol boats were not outfitted to contain sizeable amounts of heavy armor and artillery. These vessels were constructed to carry out stealth missions to infiltrate enemy territories.

Types of patrol craft include:

  • PC Patrol Craft Coastal
  • PC Submarine Chaser (173′)
  • PCE Patrol Craft Escort
  • PCER Patrol Craft Rescue Escort
  • PCH Submarine Chaser (Hydrofoil)
  • PCS Patrol Craft Sweeper
  • PE Eagle Class Patrol Vessel
  • PF Patrol Frigate
  • PG Gunboat
  • PGH Gunboat (Hydrofoil)
  • PGM Motor Gunboat
  • PHM Patrol Combatant-Missile (Hydrofoil)
  • PR River Gunboat
  • PT Motor Torpedo Boat
  • PTC Motor Boat Submarine Chasers
  • PY Patrol Yacht
  • PY Coastal Patrol Yacht
  • SC Submarine Chaser (110′)

The most commonly known classes of Navy patrol boats are the Eagle Class and Cyclone Class. The Eagle Class were smaller ships made of steel with the ability to go further offshore than other vessels.

Eagle Class patrol boats were manufactured by Henry Ford who had both the capability and resources to build them.

These patrol boats became available towards the end of World War I. Most boats with the Navy served during World War II, while some went to other departments, like the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cyclone Class was introduced in the early 1990s to provide interdiction surveillance, coastal patrol, and support for special operations in shallow water areas. A majority of the fleet provided the Navy with a quick, dependable platform and could respond to shallow water emergencies.

A few of the boats were on loan to the U.S. Coast Guard where they assisted in search and rescue missions as well as investigating foreign freighters.

Asbestos Use in Navy Patrol Boats

With the start of WWII, the United States significantly increased their development of Navy ships. There was an urgency for the production of Navy patrol boats in large quantities.

Most vessels built before 1980 contain significant amounts of asbestos. Asbestos was appealing not just for its affordability, but also its flexible strength and resistance to high temperatures and damage caused by chemicals.

Other properties that made asbestos such an appealing product were its uses as an insulator and for fireproofing building materials used on the boats.

The United States Navy has taken the initiative to remove asbestos from their ships. Despite its efforts, the process of removing asbestos products has its challenges.

As asbestos ages, it becomes brittle and poses a threat to one’s health if the appropriate steps are not followed to remove it properly. Despite the Navy’s best attempts to remove the toxic product, much of it remains on their boats today.

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Types of Asbestos Products Used in Patrol Boats

Compared to other vessels, patrol boats were smaller in size, but still contained significant amounts of asbestos.

Asbestos was a typical product used in the construction of patrol boats until the early 1980s. They used more than 300 asbestos-containing products in their development.

Areas of high contamination were sleeping quarters, common areas, mess halls, navigation rooms, engine rooms, and boiler rooms.

Other asbestos-containing products included:

  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Pipe insulation
  • Grinders
  • Gaskets
  • Paneling
  • Packing materials
  • Tubes
  • Adhesives
  • Cables
  • Block insulation
  • Capacitors
  • Bedding compounds
  • Thermal materials

A look into records containing pertinent information relating to the construction of Naval vessels validates the use of asbestos in equipment.

High Asbestos-Risk Occupations on Patrol Boats

Patrol boats had a unique advantage over other ships because their workers had more opportunities to work in open-air areas.

Patrol boat occupations most at risk are:

  • Electricians
  • Shipyard workers
  • Enginemen
  • Broiler tenders
  • Machinist mates
  • Pipefitters

Some of the highest amounts of asbestos were areas that contained pipes and wires covered with insulation, such as the pump, fire and engine rooms.

Any U.S. Navy veterans who held these jobs while they served were exposed to asbestos — meaning they are now at risk of mesothelioma and other deadly diseases.

Help for Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

Those who have served on U.S. Navy patrol boats have a high risk of contracting serious diseases, like mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that arises in the layer of tissue surrounding the internal organs.

Thankfully they may be able to access disability benefits and treatments through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If you are a Navy veteran who has contracted mesothelioma, you eligible to make a compensation claim through the VA.

In addition to VA compensation, you can also file lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. No branch of the U.S. military or government will be sued.

Our team can tell you more about VA benefits. Get our free mesothelioma guide today.

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.

  1. The National Association of Destroyer Veterans, “Hull Designations for Patrol Craft” Retrieved from Accessed on 18 April 2018

  2. Mayo Clinic, “Mesothelioma” Retrieved from: Accessed on 18 April 2018

  3. U.S. Asbestos Expedited Claims Processing, “Ships and Asbestos” Retrieved from: Accessed on 18 April 2018

  4. EagleSpeak “Sunday Ship History: The Eagle Ships” Retrieved from: Accessed on 18 April 2018

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