Asbestos on Escort Carriers

The United States Navy used asbestos in shipbuilding for decades. The general public didn't know that asbestos on escort carriers and other ships was a carcinogen. This meant that thousands of sailors aboard Navy vessels like escort carriers were exposed to asbestos and later developed mesotheliom. We can help eligible veterans harmed by asbestos on escort carriers get benefits, medical care, and compensation.

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Asbestos and Escort Carriers Explained

Like destroyers, frigates, and aircraft carriers, escort carriers made up a large part of the U.S. Navy. This was particularly true during World War II when many battles were waged on the seas.

As with all other Navy ships, Navy escort carriers (CVEs) needed to be protected against fire and excessive heat. This was especially important in the boiler and engine rooms.

An escort carrier upon the water

Asbestos was considered a safe and cheap alternative to other materials. This made it a popular option for fireproofing escort carriers and protecting sailors from heat while on the job.

In fact, during World War II, asbestos insulation was a mandated part of the shipbuilding process for escort carriers.

Escort carriers are scaled-back aircraft carriers that were used during World War II. Sometimes referred to as “jeep carriers” or “baby flattops,” these ships were designed to carry convoys and defend against enemy aircraft and submarines.

Many years after these ships were built, asbestos was discovered to be hazardous and highly toxic to those who inhaled or ingested the fibers. For this reason, the Navy banned the use of asbestos in the 1970s. By then, thousands of American sailors and other escort carrier workers had been exposed to asbestos materials already.

Thankfully, veterans with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases can get military benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and seek legal compensation. Learn more in our Free Veterans Packet.

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List of Escort Carriers With Asbestos

Over 100 escort carriers and almost all other U.S. Navy ships were made with asbestos-containing products before the early 1980s.

The following are some Navy escort carriers that used asbestos-containing materials:

  • USS Altamaha (CVE-6)
  • USS Barnes (CVE-20)
  • USS Carnegie (CVE-38)
  • USS Coral Sea (CVE-57)
  • USS Edisto (CVE-41)
  • USS Hoggatt Bay (CVE-73)
  • USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74)
  • USS Petrof Bay (CVE-80)
  • USS Salerno Bay (CVE-110)
  • USS Takanis Bay (CVE-89)
  • USS Tulagi (CVE-72)
  • USS Willapa (CVE-53)
Have You Served Aboard Any of These Escort Carriers?File a Claim Now

The list above shows just a few of the many escort carriers that had asbestos-containing materials aboard, so you may have been exposed even if you don't see a ship you served on above.

Why Was Asbestos Used on Escort Carriers?

Most escort carriers built before the early 1980s were built with asbestos because no one knew of the dangers. The risks were known only to the asbestos companies, who learned that exposure to asbestos could cause cancer as early as the 1930s.

Unfortunately, this information wasn’t made public until the 1970s, too late for the Naval service members and shipyard workers who came in contact with the substance.

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Video Summary: VA-accredited attorney Eric Hall explains how U.S. veterans risked asbestos exposure while they served. Veterans with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma may qualify for VA benefits. Call (877) 450-8973 to get started.

Military members who served between the 1930s and 1980s were very likely exposed to asbestos, particularly in the Navy because asbestos was used throughout the ships to insulate pipes and insulate their boiler systems.

And of course, the Marines were also on ships for extended periods of time when they were going from one place to another.

Also, the Air Force used asbestos extensively, particularly in parts for airplanes. The army and the Marine Corps also use asbestos throughout their buildings on base to help insulate various pipes.

If the veteran believes they were exposed to asbestos while serving in, the number one thing they can do is put the VA notice that they intend to file for VA benefits.

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help with that process and we encourage veterans to call and find out how we can help them.

Asbestos was used in many areas of the escort carriers and other ships due to its versatility.

Pipes containing asbestos were found in the sailors’ private quarters, mess halls, common areas, and navigation rooms on escort carriers. Asbestos was also used to insulate the exterior of the ship, boilers, piping, and engines used to power escort carriers.

More than 300 asbestos-containing products were used on escort carriers until the middle of the 1970s when it was discovered that asbestos is toxic.

Letters, ship databases, war diaries, historical documents, repair logs, and memos dating back to World War II document the use of asbestos on these ships.

Anyone who inhales asbestos could develop mesothelioma.

Asbestos-Based Products Used on Escort Carriers

Asbestos coated many items on escort carriers, including boilers, engines, and pipes.

This exposed Navy veterans who worked on these ships to dangerous levels of asbestos. It also increased their risk of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Learn about some of the common asbestos-based products found on these ships below.


Boilers create the high-temperature steam needed to operate these kinds of ships.

Boilers were often coated with asbestos blankets for insulation. Many of these asbestos-containing materials were nearly 15% asbestos.

Gaskets that managed the heat generated by the boilers also contained asbestos. Boilermakers on escort carriers typically had the most asbestos exposure, since they worked in poorly ventilated boiler rooms for long spans of time.

Get a Free Veterans Packet if you developed mesothelioma after serving on an escort carrier or another Navy vessel. Compensation may be available.

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A wall of valves and pipes onboard a shipMost of these pipes aboard U.S. Navy ships were insulated with asbestos wraps, which kept heat or cold from escaping.

The asbestos-containing insulation consisted of a felt wrapper covered by tar, providing an outer wrapping. The felt wrapper was up to 50% asbestos.

The asbestos insulation often broke down, allowing fibers to become airborne. Sailors and other workers on escort carriers breathed in asbestos in the air.

Eventually, many of these sailors developed an asbestos-related illness.


Mechanical pumps on escort carriers powered many different systems, including the bilge, cooling, and heating systems.

Machinist mates who worked on the pumps often came into contact with insulation containing asbestos, which was used on the external surface of these pumps.

They released toxic asbestos fibers into the air using sanders, wire brushes, and scrapers to remove gaskets stuck inside the pumps.


Valves were common on escort carriers. These devices helped control the flow of gasses and liquids within the ship’s plumbing.

Several valves were used on escort carriers, including steam valves that operated under high pressures. These valves were often made from asbestos.

Who Was at Risk of Asbestos Exposure on Escort Carriers?

U.S. Navy veterans at the highest risk for asbestos exposure during their time of service were boiler operators and pipefitters.

photo of two Navy sailors in cramped working conditionsThey were tasked with maintaining valves and replacing old valves. This exposed them to asbestos during the replacement process.

Because the quarters were cramped, they had high amounts of asbestos fibers. The U.S. military workers exposed to them breathed them in, and many of them later developed asbestos-related diseases.

However, anyone who served on an escort carrier or other Navy vessels may have been exposed to asbestos at some point.

For these reasons, veterans with mesothelioma are encouraged to see if they qualify for VA benefits and compensation.

Need help filing for VA benefits?

VA-Accredited Attorney Eric Hall (Major USAFR) can help you file for free.

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Compensation Options for U.S. Veterans With Mesothelioma

Veterans who served in the United States Navy as shipyard workers or escort carrier personnel diagnosed with mesothelioma can pursue VA benefits, legal claims, and claims with asbestos trust funds to get compensation. Learn more about these options below.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit

If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy and now have mesothelioma, you can demand payment from the makers of the asbestos-containing products through a mesothelioma lawsuit.

These lawsuits typically award $1 million or more and are not filed against the U.S. military or government. Call (877) 450-8973 to connect with our partner attorneys and learn if you can file an asbestos lawsuit for compensation.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Many bankrupt manufacturers of asbestos-containing products filed for bankruptcy (which stopped all mesothelioma lawsuits against them).  However, the U.S. courts forced bankrupt companies that wanted to stay in business to set up asbestos trust funds so victims could still get compensation.

There's more than $30 billion available in asbestos trust funds today. Work with our team to find out if you're eligible to access money from a trust fund.

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VA Benefits

Veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA benefits.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses related to service typically qualify for a 100% disability rating. A 100% disability rating for married veterans currently provides $3,946.25 a month as of 2024.

Veterans can also get free or inexpensive medical treatments for mesothelioma through the VA health care system.

Not sure if you qualify?

We can determine if you can file for or increase your mesothelioma VA benefits. Get started now.

Help for Veterans With Mesothelioma from Asbestos on Escort Carriers

If you or a loved one served on an escort carrier and now has mesothelioma, our team may be able to help you get the compensation and benefits you deserve. 

Work with our team for help accessing: 

  • Expert doctors and top hospitals throughout the country
  • Financial compensation worth $1 million+
  • VA benefits, including monthly payouts and medical care

To date, we've helped thousands of other U.S. veterans, civilians, and loved ones access top resources following a mesothelioma diagnosis. Our on-staff team includes fellow veterans, patient advocates, and attorneys who are all ready to assist you in any way they can.

Get a Free Veterans Packet to learn more about the benefits available to you.

Asbestos on Escort Carriers FAQs

Is there still asbestos on Navy ships?

No World War II-era U.S. Navy escort carriers are in use today, according to the Smithsonian Institution. However, a handful of other U.S. Navy vessels still contain asbestos-based products.

It was impossible to remove all asbestos-containing materials from Navy ships. Thankfully, steps have been taken to make sure the asbestos currently used on Navy vessels is sturdy and won't harm those aboard.

Can you sue the Navy for asbestos exposure?

You won't sue the Navy for asbestos exposure when you work with our team. We don't take legal action against any branch of the government or military.

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help you file for mesothelioma VA benefits that are offered by the military, which typically award nearly $4,000 a month or more.

We can also help you file private legal claims against the makers of asbestos-based products. These companies knew the risks of asbestos but hid them. Filing a private legal claim or lawsuit won't affect your ability to receive mesothelioma VA benefits.

How do you prove asbestos exposure in the military?

If you or a loved one believes asbestos exposure from a U.S. Navy escort carrier caused an illness, you'll need evidence.

This may include medical records confirming your diagnosis, military service documents, and a nexus letter from a doctor. The nexus letter will be a doctor's confirmation that your illness was linked to asbestos exposure.

Our team can help determine when, where, and how you may have been exposed to asbestos on escort carriers. From there, we can secure VA benefits, medical aid, and financial payouts on your behalf if you have mesothelioma.

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. Noles, J. (n.d.). All Guts, No Glory for the Escort Carriers. Retrieved April 1, 2024, from
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, April 25). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved April 1, 2024, from
  3. Escort carrier image retrieved from Naval History and Heritage Command at