Asbestos on Auxiliary Ships

Quick Summary

Navy auxiliary ships used to contain massive amounts of asbestos. While there are many types of ships in the Navy’s auxiliary force, seamen had a risk of asbestos exposure on every ship. Pursue benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you or a loved one developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos on an auxiliary ship.

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Asbestos and Auxiliary Ships Explained

Auxiliary ships kept other Navy vessels well-equipped and were available for quick support. There are many types of Navy auxiliary ships, and asbestos was used aboard virtually all of them before the 1980s.

Navy auxiliary ship Asbestos is a light, naturally occurring mineral. It was an excellent material for insulation and fireproofing aboard Navy vessels like auxiliary ships, helping to control the heat that major ship components gave off.

Because the substance was cheap, it was widely used by the U.S. Navy for decades. In ships built before the 1980s, you could find asbestos-containing materials almost anywhere.

Sadly, exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and/or lung cancer decades later. In fact, the Navy accounts for the largest percentage of veterans with mesothelioma because of asbestos use on Naval auxiliary vessels and other ships.

Did you know?

Although the U.S. Navy used asbestos in all of its vessels, it is not responsible for exposing veterans to asbestos on auxiliary ships. The responsibility falls to the companies who created the asbestos-containing materials used aboard the ships. These companies knew asbestos could cause cancer but hid the truth. 

Thankfully, help is available if you or a family member now suffers from mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos on auxiliary ships. Learn how you can pursue VA benefits right now in our Free Veterans Packet.

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Ways Asbestos Was Used Aboard Navy Auxiliary Ships

Asbestos-containing products were used throughout U.S. Navy auxiliary vessels, which is why the risk of asbestos exposure was so high.

The primary sources for asbestos on auxiliary ships were:

  • Boilers
  • Coverings/linings
  • Engines
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Pipes
  • Pumps
  • Turbines

There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Any Navy veteran exposed to asbestos on auxiliary ships from these parts could go on to develop mesothelioma later in life.

auxiliary shipMachinist’s mates, electrician’s mates, and even shipyard workers all worked with these materials.

However, those at greatest risk worked directly with the products mentioned above as part of their duties aboard Navy auxiliary ships and other vessels.

High-Risk Asbestos Exposure Areas on Auxiliary Ships

The risks of asbestos on auxiliary ships varied widely due to the many different types of these vessels. However, there were common areas aboard ships and jobs that could put a seaman at greater risk.

Areas where asbestos was used on auxiliary ships include:

  • Boiler and engine rooms: Seamen who worked on boilers or engines may have encountered asbestos in cracked gaskets and insulation.
  • Pump rooms: These rooms also used a lot of asbestos in gaskets and pipes. The confined area of the pump rooms left little space for stray asbestos fibers to go if disturbed, meaning it was easier for sailors to inhale or swallow them.
  • Turrets: Turrets and large guns required a lot of insulation. This insulation was often lined with asbestos. Sailors loading or repairing turrets faced asbestos exposure. Some of the materials for handling turrets, like gloves, may have also been made of asbestos fabric.
  • Ward rooms and berthing spaces: Even the walls and ceiling materials used in auxiliary ships built before the 1980s had asbestos.

Those working in these areas aboard auxiliary ships were more likely to be exposed to asbestos, which increases the risk of developing mesothelioma decades later.

List of Auxiliary Ships With Asbestos

Some auxiliary ships that used asbestos included:

  • USNS Apache
  • USNS Flint
  • USNS Sioux

These ships are currently non-commissioned but still owned by the U.S. Navy. Some were in operation until as recently as 2022.

But it wasn’t just these three: Many other U.S. Navy ships used asbestos as well. The list of ships that were used in the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force is extensive, including hundreds of different vessels.

Other kinds of auxiliary ships that used asbestos included:

  • Aircraft transports
  • Amphibious force command ships
  • Auxiliary docks
  • Crane ships
  • Colliers
  • Combat stores ships
  • Command ships
  • Communications relay ships
  • Deep submergence support ship
  • Destroyer tenders
  • Fleet ocean tugboats
  • Hospital ships
  • Icebreakers
  • Minesweepers
  • Missile range instrumentation ships
  • Motor torpedo boat tenders
  • Ocean surveillance ships
  • Provisions store ships
  • Radar picket ships
  • Repair ships
  • Seaplanes
  • Small and medium harbor tugs
  • Submarine tenders
  • Surveying ships
  • Tankers
  • Technical research ships
  • Transports
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If you served on any type of U.S. Navy auxiliary ship — or any other Navy vessel — prior to the early 1980s, you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma. Thankfully, you might also qualify for mesothelioma VA benefits. Find out more now.

Need help filing for VA benefits?

VA-Accredited Attorney Capt RIANG Eric Hall can help you file for free.

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History of U.S. Navy Auxiliary Ships

There are over 40 different types of ships in the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force. This fleet acts as the U.S. Navy’s main supply line to ships remaining at sea.

The Auxiliary Force first saw action in World War I. Back then, the fleet consisted of mostly private vessels used to supplement the Navy. In World War II, the fleet became a permanent part of the U.S. Navy and it later served major roles in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Auxiliary ships are not like other vessels in the Navy. Because auxiliary ships are designated to keep the U.S. Navy fully equipped, there are many different types of ships in this class. Each auxiliary ship has a different design and purpose.

Some of the dominant types of auxiliary ships include:

  • Ammunition ships: Supply of all types of ammunition
  • Dry cargo ships: Supply food and other cargo
  • Fast combat support ships: All-in-one quick supply of fuel, food, ammo, and more to fast-moving carrier strike groups
  • Oilers: Supply ships at sea with fuel
  • Repair ships: Take care of at-sea repair of Naval warships
  • Rescue and salvage ships: Help vessels that have been damaged
  • Tugboats: Move large vessels into port and may help in recovery missions

Regardless of their intended purposes, all auxiliary ships contained asbestos materials prior to the 1980s.

This is why it’s important for U.S. Navy veterans who served on these ships to watch for symptoms of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions and get help from the VA if they’re diagnosed.

Compensation Options for U.S. Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

If you or one of your family members has mesothelioma or another health issue stemming from asbestos on auxiliary ships, you have options to seek compensation.

These include asbestos personal injury claims, asbestos trust fund claims, and VA benefits claims.

Personal Injury Claims

Veterans with mesothelioma may be able to file asbestos claims (also known as lawsuits) against the companies that manufactured the asbestos-containing materials that harmed them. The U.S. Navy and government are not sued.

These claims typically award financial payouts through settlements. A mesothelioma settlement can award $1 million or more so veterans can pay for medical bills, treatments, surgeries, pain and suffering, and other related costs.

Our team can help you file a mesothelioma claim now: Call (877) 450-8973 to see if you have a case.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Veterans cannot file personal injury mesothelioma claims against companies that declared bankruptcy. However, it still may be possible to file claims with trust funds set up by these companies.

There is currently an estimated $30 billion remaining in asbestos trust funds. A top mesothelioma attorney can determine if you qualify to file an asbestos trust fund claim.

VA Claims

Mesothelioma benefits offered by the VA include monthly disability compensation, health care from mesothelioma specialists, and help for spouses.

Veterans with mesothelioma usually receive a 100% disability rating from the VA. This means they can access the highest amount of compensation available — over $3,600 a month. Further, filing private claims won’t impact your ability to file for VA benefits.

We have VA-accredited attorneys like U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eric Hall that can help you file for mesothelioma VA benefits. Contact us today to see if you are eligible.

Help for U.S. Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

Navy veterans make up a vast number of mesothelioma patients, and many were exposed to asbestos while serving on auxiliary ships and other vessels. Fortunately, Navy veterans with mesothelioma do have options for the harm they’ve suffered.

Things to remember:

  • All auxiliary ships built prior to the 1980s had asbestos aboard.
  • The VA offers financial payouts and health care to affected veterans.
  • Veterans can get $1 million or more on average from private claims.

Don’t wait: Call (877) 450-8973 or contact our team now to learn about the benefits you can receive if you were exposed to asbestos on auxiliary ships.

FAQs About Asbestos on Auxiliary Ships

Where was asbestos used aboard U.S. Navy auxiliary ships?

Asbestos was used throughout auxiliary ships and other Navy vessels for decades. Asbestos could be found in insulation, pumps, piping, gaskets, and much more. Navy sailors that handled these asbestos-containing parts could have easily inhaled stray fibers.

Boilers, engine rooms, and pump rooms had an especially high amount of asbestos-based products inside and around them.

Why was asbestos used on ships if was harmful?

The general public was largely unaware of the dangers asbestos posed, as makers of asbestos-containing products hid the risks to make money. On Navy auxiliary ships and other vessels, asbestos helped make various components stronger and fireproof.

The U.S. Navy actually mandated the use of asbestos aboard all its vessels until the risks became public knowledge.

How can I get help after asbestos exposure on an auxiliary ship?

If you developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease from asbestos exposure on auxiliary ships or other vessels, call (877) 450-8973 now. Our VA-accredited agents and patient advocates can help you pursue VA benefits and financial aid.

Veterans Support Team
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.

  1. Auxiliary ship image retrieved from Naval History and Heritage Command at