Asbestos on Cruisers

Quick Summary

Asbestos-containing products were used extensively on a daily basis by sailors operating on cruisers. These asbestos-containing products often became broken down, agitated or degraded — resulting in asbestos fibers becoming airborne where they could be ingested or inhaled.

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Asbestos and Cruisers Explained

One of the largest ships in the Navy arsenal is the U.S. Navy cruiser. This ship is a large combat warship that has many different capabilities for multiple target responses.

Cruisers have been active for a long time throughout U.S. war history, including serving in World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1941-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the Cold War (1955-1991).

The U.S. Navy cruiser is different from other U.S. Navy war vessels in that it can be modified to do many different tasks during battle. Navy cruisers vary in size and design — from very small ships to massive, heavily armed cruisers. Some Navy cruisers are as large as Navy battleships, although they are less powerful.

Navy cruisers have been in place since the early 20th century, with designs remaining relatively constant over the years. Sadly, most Navy cruisers were built using asbestos products, which put many Navy veterans at risk of deadly cancers like mesothelioma.

Thankfully, veterans with mesothelioma can pursue benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to access monthly payouts and medical care. They can also pursue legal compensation from the makers of asbestos-containing products. Get a free veterans packet to learn about these options.

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List of Navy Cruisers With Asbestos

Various types of Navy Cruisers include the following:

  • Anti-Aircraft light cruisers (CLAA)
  • Light Cruisers (CL)
  • Guided Missile Cruisers that were nuclear powered (CNG)
  • Guided Missile Cruisers with Helicopter capabilities (CGH)
  • Guided Missile Cruisers (CG)
  • Command Cruisers (CC)
  • Large Command Ship (CBC)
  • Large Cruisers (CB)
  • Guided Missile Heavy Cruisers (CAG)
  • Heavy Cruisers (CA)
  • Armored Cruisers (CA)
  • Cruiser-Hunter Killer Ship (CLK)
  • Guided Missile Light Cruiser, Nuclear Powered (CLGN)
  • Guided Missile Light Cruiser converted to carry missiles (CLG)
  • Command Light Cruisers (CLG)

There are existing archived documents that show that asbestos was being used in repair logs, letters, memos and purchase orders.

Documents dating back from the 1940s show the excessive use of products containing asbestos on the USS Baltimore, the USS Boston, the USS Canberra, the USS Quincy, the USS Albany, the USS Pittsburgh, the USS St. Paul, the USS Columbus, the USS New Orleans, the USS Norfolk, and the USS Helena.

However, any Navy cruiser built before the 1980s may have contained asbestos. 

Click here for a FREE Navy Ships Guide containing a list of ships with asbestos.

How Was Asbestos Used in Navy Carriers?

A military cruiser on the sea

During the early 1930s up until the 1970s, asbestos was used prominently in cruisers as insulation and in products and machinery. Asbestos was cheap and versatile, so it was used throughout many cruisers and ships. This was all before it was proven that asbestos was dangerous to breathe or ingest.

As a result, many Navy personnel, including sailors and shipyard workers, were exposed to cruisers. The exposures could have been incurred during the building of these ships, as well as in the operation of cruisers in battle.

Asbestos was common in pipe insulation on cruisers, as well as in boilers, engine rooms, bulkheads, switches, ceiling tiles, fuel storage areas, and electrical components.

Asbestos was used in any situation where there was a need for insulation, such as when high temperatures were involved (engines and boilers, for example).

File for VA benefits if you were exposed to asbestos on a cruiser and later developed mesothelioma.

Asbestos-Containing Products on Cruisers

Documents from Navy logs showed the widespread use of asbestos in all areas of the ship, including asbestos cloth insulation for pipe flange cuffs, asbestos cloth insulation for valves, molded asbestos for lagging and insulation, asbestos-containing gaskets, asbestos-containing paper and packing rings made from asbestos.

They also used asbestos for elevator pit drainage pumps, auxiliary condenser circulation pumps and on main boilers or in piping.

Other documents show that ships had asbestos-containing products, such as Westinghouse electric brand turbines, Milwaukee, Manning, Maxwell and Moore brand valves, and Worthington gasoline meters. Asbestos was also used to repair and refurbish all of the valves, turbines, condensers, boilers and gaskets found on these cruisers.

The highest risk for asbestos exposure included Navy veterans who built cruisers, as well as those who worked in the boiler rooms and engine rooms. This is where asbestos was the most prevalent and there was the greatest need for continually replacing asbestos-containing parts.

Exposed to asbestos on a Navy ship? Get a free veterans packet to see if you qualify for benefits and compensation.

How Asbestos Exposure Causes Diseases

Asbestos fibers are long, thin and not easily coughed out. They usually lodge in the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) or the lungs (the pleura). Once the fibers have accumulated in these areas, they tend to cause inflammation and scar tissue.

This process happens over several decades and as many as five decades could pass from the time of exposure to the time the individual develops an asbestos-related disease.

Sadly, by the time many veterans experience symptoms, their cancer has already progressed. Thankfully, treatments are available to help patients even for patients with advanced mesothelioma.

Help For Veterans With Mesothelioma

If you worked on a cruise during any of the wars noted above, you may be at risk for an asbestos-containing disease, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Fortunately, you can be screened for these diseases at your local VA medical center.

Asbestos-related illnesses may be service connected, so that the treatment of any diseases you contracted as a result of asbestos exposure is covered under veterans medical benefits. You may also qualify for financial VA benefits and legal compensation from the makers of asbestos-based products.

Get a free case review to see if you can pursue these benefits right now. Our team is standing by to help you.

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.

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  1. Cruiser image retrieved from Naval History and Heritage Command at
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