Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans

Out of all U.S. military branches, members of the Navy faced the highest risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer. We can help U.S. Navy veterans with mesothelioma access or increase their VA benefits, find top treatments, and secure additional compensation.

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How Were U.S. Navy Veterans Exposed to Asbestos?

From the 1930s to the early 1980s, asbestos products were used in all Navy ships and many bases for fireproofing and durability. This put Navy veterans at risk of developing mesothelioma later in life.

“Asbestos didn’t kill anybody on the spot, that’s for sure. It took years later. That’s when it started catching up with us. My understanding is that the powers-that-be knew.”

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

Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the health risks but hid them from the public and the military for decades. As a result of this corporate negligence, roughly 1 in 3 mesothelioma patients is a Navy veteran or shipyard worker.

With our help, Navy veterans with mesothelioma can access U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and other key resources, like treatments and legal compensation worth over $1 million on average.

Get a Free Veterans Packet now to see how we can assist you or a veteran you love.

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U.S. Navy Ships That Used Asbestos

Almost every U.S. Navy ship used asbestos due to government mandates before the health risks were widely known.

Types of naval ships that used asbestos included:

Use our mesothelioma Navy ships database to learn if a particular vessel you served on had asbestos aboard.

U.S. Navy shipyard workers are also at a high risk of mesothelioma since they removed, installed, and repaired asbestos-containing products every day.

“The large group most threatened is the 4.5 million people who worked in World War II shipyards, where asbestos dust was so pervasive that one often could not see across a room.”

— New York Times

The U.S. Navy did not start providing breathing protection until the late 1970s, so shipbuilders were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis before this time.

Voices of U.S. Mesothelioma Navy Veterans

Though mesothelioma is rare, many other U.S. Navy veterans have bravely battled this cancer. Hear from some of these Navy veterans below and know that you’re not alone in your fight.

Walter Twidwell

Walter served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and was diagnosed with mesothelioma decades later. Walter sought help from mesothelioma attorneys, who secured over $40 million on his behalf.

Walter Mesothelioma Testimonial Video Thumbnail

Video Summary: Military veteran Walter talks about his time in the U.S. Navy, being diagnosed with mesothelioma, and filing a mesothelioma claim.

The word mesothelioma I didn’t know anything about. When I turned 70 I started getting pneumonia, but then as time went on they kept getting closer and closer and closer together [the occurrences] and I asked the doctor, I said, I wanna know why.

And they sent me downstairs to get a chest X-ray and the X-ray made it back before I got back up there.

He says, we're gonna go inside and take a look. He come up right to my bedside after the operation and showed me the pictures they took on the inside of the lung and he pointed out the cancer.

I really can’t explain it. I got a knot in my stomach, you know. But he told me then that there was no cure for it.

I was impressed by the Navy – seeing my uncle in that Navy uniform, you know – take pictures of him. So I just decided when I come outta school that I was gonna join the Navy.

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

It didn’t kill anybody on the spot that’s for sure, but it took years later when it started catching up with us. But, my understanding [is] that the powers-that-be knew.

I didn’t wanna sue my government and I damn sure didn’t wanna sue the Navy cause they're still feeding me. I wasn’t suing the government, I wasn’t suing the U.S. Navy, I was suing the manufacturer.

It was only 2 or 3 days and he was here [the lawyer]. He came and seen me, talked to me personally. He knew what kind of a man I was and how involved I was with my job in the Navy. Felt very comfortable with them. I was watching the way they handled it, they did good.

[It was] positive thinking, there was nothing negative about it, it was positive. They were prepared, they could go back to day 1, and I appreciated that. There was no guessing about it, they had the paperwork to back them up.

It was a hands-on approach I guess, and that’s what drew me. Cause that’s the way I do things – a hands-on approach. They damn well earned it.


Jim Gahan

During his time in the Navy, Jim worked on boilers laced with asbestos. Given just months to live after a mesothelioma diagnosis, Jim fought the cancer for more than a year and filed a lawsuit to afford life-extending treatments.

Frank Curre

Frank was just out of high school when he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the U.S. into World War II. On the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Frank passed away from mesothelioma.

Albert Manring

A proud U.S. Navy veteran, Albert was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician. He was later diagnosed with mesothelioma and took legal action to hold manufacturers of asbestos products accountable.

Get a Free Veterans Packet to learn how we can help U.S. Navy veterans like you after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

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Where Was Asbestos Found on Navy Ships?

A wide assortment of asbestos-containing products were used to keep U.S. Navy ships fireproof and durable.

Asbestos-containing materials could be found in:

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

“Asbestos was used throughout Navy ships to insulate pipes and to insulate their boiler systems.”

— Eric Hall, Major USAFR and VA-accredited attorney

The image below shows the areas on a Navy vessel where asbestos could be found.A diagram showing where asbestos could be found on Navy ships

As Navy personnel worked on ship parts, asbestos fibers could’ve been released into the air. Breathing in or swallowing these fibers may lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases later in life.

Many U.S. Navy rates (jobs) put service members at risk of asbestos exposure. Some rates required U.S. military veterans to work with or around asbestos every day.

High-risk mesothelioma Navy jobs included:

  • Boiler technicians
  • Damage controllers
  • Electrician’s mates
  • Gunner’s mates
  • Hull maintenance technicians (HTs)
  • Machinist’s mates
  • Merchant marines
  • Metalsmiths
  • Pipefitters
  • Seabees

Get our Free Veterans Packet to learn how you can pursue benefits and compensation if you were diagnosed with mesothelioma after serving in the Navy.

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  • Top Treatments
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Secondhand Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Navy

Family members who lived on U.S. Navy bases also may have been exposed to asbestos.

Did you know?

Navy base housing and construction sites could be sources of exposure if asbestos fibers were disturbed and entered the surrounding air.

Navy personnel may have also brought dusty, asbestos-covered clothing home after work. Family members could have come in contact with asbestos if they touched the clothes, like while doing laundry.

Mesothelioma Navy Compensation and Benefits

There are several ways Navy veterans can seek mesothelioma compensation, including VA benefits, lawsuits, and asbestos trust fund payouts.

Learn more about benefits and financial compensation options for Navy veterans with mesothelioma and their families below.

Mesothelioma Navy VA Benefits

Mesothelioma VA benefits like disability compensation and pensions can help cover lost wages and caregiver expenses.

Married veterans can receive $3,946.25 each month or more from VA disability benefits since mesothelioma is a 100% disability.

We can help Navy mesothelioma veterans file for or increase their VA benefits for free right now, if eligible.

Mesothelioma Veterans Guide
Get a FREE Veterans Packet

Get information on:

  • Top Treatments
  • Best Doctors
  • Improving Prognosis

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Navy veterans with mesothelioma may be able to file lawsuits against companies that made or sold asbestos-containing products. Mesothelioma lawsuits award $1 million on average, with some veterans getting even more.

Navy mesothelioma lawsuit payouts our legal partners have secured include:

  • $40.1 million to a Washington Navy veteran
  • $4.68 million for a New Hampshire Navy veteran
  • $4 million to a Massachusetts Navy veteran
  • $4 million to a Kansas Navy veteran
  • $3.78 million to a Pennsylvania Navy veteran
  • $3.5 million to a Wisconsin Navy veteran
  • $3.15 million to a Minnesota Navy veteran
  • $2 million to a North Carolina Navy veteran
  • $1.83 million for an Arizona Navy veteran
  • $1.55 million for an Illinois Navy veteran

The military and government are never sued, and veterans can still pursue VA benefits if they file a lawsuit. Our on-staff mesothelioma attorneys for U.S. Navy veterans can help you file a lawsuit now if you qualify.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Asbestos trust funds were set up by bankrupt asbestos companies to pay victims. There’s an estimated $30 billion still available in these trusts today. You or a Navy veteran with mesothelioma you love may qualify to receive some of this money.

Our legal partners can help you file asbestos trust fund claims, lawsuits, and VA benefits claims all at the same time if you qualify.

“They will be there by your side the whole way through.”

— Linda, daughter of Navy mesothelioma veteran Albert Manring

Treatment and Health Care for Mesothelioma Navy Veterans

Mesothelioma Navy veterans can access low-cost or free treatment with VA health care benefits. Top mesothelioma doctors serve Navy veterans as part of the VA health care system.

  • Dr. Daniel C. Wiener

    Dr. Wiener leads the thoracic surgery team at the Boston VA. Dr. Wiener is highly experienced and is a Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor.

  • Dr. Robert Cameron

    Based in California, Dr. Cameron treats pleural mesothelioma in Navy veterans using the most effective treatments available. Visit the UCLA Health website to learn more about Dr. Robert Cameron.

  • Dr. Lorraine Cornwell

    Dr. Cornwell heads the mesothelioma treatment program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Texas.

Use our Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match now to find specialists who may be able to treat you or a loved one who served in the Navy.

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  • File for VA health care to cover costs
  • Get advice on the best treatments

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Get Help Accessing Mesothelioma Navy Benefits

U.S. Navy veterans fighting mesothelioma deserve to get benefits, health care, and justice after a diagnosis. The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help.

Work with our team to:

Our patient advocates and VA-accredited attorneys can quickly assist you or a Navy veteran with mesothelioma. There are no upfront or out-of-pocket costs to work with our team.

Call (877) 450-8973 now to find out if we can help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.

Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans FAQs

What is the Navy settlement for mesothelioma?

An out-of-court settlement allows Navy veterans to get mesothelioma legal compensation without a trial. You may possibly receive millions of dollars from mesothelioma settlements.

Mesothelioma Navy settlements and verdicts our legal partners have secured include:

  • $40.1 million to a veteran from Washington
  • $4 million to a veteran from Massachusetts
  • $4 million to a veteran from Kansas
  • $3.5 million to a veteran from Wisconsin

Contact our team now to learn if you may be eligible to pursue Navy mesothelioma settlements.

Why do veterans get mesothelioma?

U.S. Navy veterans get mesothelioma since the military relied on asbestos products between the 1930s and early 1980s.

Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, and many Navy veterans were exposed to this mineral on an everyday basis. Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the health risks for decades but hid them from service members.

What is the VA disability rating for mesothelioma?

The VA typically grants a 100% disability rating for mesothelioma. With this rating, veterans can receive the highest monthly disability payouts and lowest health care premiums.

Call (877) 450-8973 now to get help filing a VA claim or increasing your VA disability rating to 100% after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

How much does a Navy veteran get for mesothelioma?

U.S. Navy veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for $3,946.25 a month or more through VA benefits and over $1 million on average in legal compensation

We can help you file a lawsuit and mesothelioma VA benefit claims right now if you’re eligible.

When did the U.S. Navy stop using asbestos?

The U.S. Navy stopped using asbestos in new ships in the early 1980s. Massive renovation projects also removed as much asbestos as possible from older U.S. Navy ships.

However, millions of U.S. Navy veterans had already been exposed to asbestos before the dangers of this mineral were widely known. As a result, Navy veterans make up 33% of all mesothelioma cases today.

Is there still asbestos on Navy ships?

Yes. A very small number of U.S. Navy ships still use some asbestos products, like the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Mount Whitney, and USS Nimitz.

However, the asbestos on these ships is contained and doesn’t pose a risk to human health.

Most U.S. Navy veterans with mesothelioma were typically exposed to asbestos before the dangers of asbestos were known to the public.

What if I was exposed to asbestos in the Navy?

If you were exposed to asbestos while you served in the Navy, keep a close watch on your health.

See a doctor if you develop possible symptoms of mesothelioma, like shortness of breath or chest pain, and let them know if you were exposed. Mesothelioma is more treatable if you’re diagnosed before the cancer spreads.

We can also help you file for mesothelioma VA benefits at no cost to you.


The Mesothelioma Veterans Center 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.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Major in the United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR), where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they bravely earned.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, July 18). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2024, April 26). Exposure to Asbestos: a Resource for Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
  4. Webb, P. (2018, September 25). The curmudgeon in the woods. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
  5. 80-G-K-13886 Aviation Mechanic, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
  6. NH 90738 USS Guam (CB-2), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
  7. NH 60219 USS Georgia, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
  8. 80-G-K-4523 (Color) USS Missouri (BB-63), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
  9. NH 75302 Thornycroft Water Tube Boiler, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.
  10. 80-G-477163 USS Ajax (AR-6), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.