Asbestos was used in all U.S. Navy ships manufactured before 1980, and every Sailor or workman who served on these ships was likely exposed to asbestos. Today, Navy veterans make up the highest percentage of patients with mesothelioma, a life-threatening cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Understanding Asbestos Exposure on Navy Ships
Starting in the 1930s, the U.S. military began using a fibrous “miracle” mineral called asbestos in its vessels. Because asbestos was cheap, water-resistant, and fireproof, the government mandated that all Navy ships use it for decades.
Navy service members didn’t know that asbestos could cause mesothelioma and other diseases, as manufacturers of asbestos-based products hid its health risks for decades.
Because of the widespread use of asbestos in the military, 33% of all mesothelioma patients today are veterans. Additionally, Navy veterans have the highest risk of mesothelioma since this branch used more asbestos-based products than any other.
Types of Ships Where Asbestos Could Be Found
- Aircraft Carriers
- Amphibious Ships
- Auxiliary Ships
- Destroyer Escorts
- Escort Carriers
- Merchant Marine Ships
- Patrol Boats
- Type of Ship:
- Asbestos Used: Yes
Where Asbestos Could Be Found On Ships
Asbestos was used in hundreds of products found on Navy ships, such as:
- Bedding compounds
- Electrical wiring
- Floor tiles
- Roofing and flooring tiles
- Thermal materials
Microscopic asbestos fibers were released into the air whenever these parts were installed, repaired, removed, or wore down naturally. Anyone who inhaled the fibers is at risk of developing mesothelioma 20-50 years later.
Asbestos-based products could be found in engine rooms, boiler rooms, navigation rooms, mess halls, and many other parts of the ship. In places with poor ventilation like engines or boiler rooms, asbestos could linger in the air for hours.