The U.S. Navy used asbestos in its submarines and other ships for decades. As these vessels were damaged or worn down, asbestos fibers could become airborne and be inhaled or ingested. Navy personnel exposed to asbestos on submarines were put at risk of the deadly cancer mesothelioma as a result. Thankfully, these veterans may qualify for VA benefits and private compensation.
How Were Veterans at Risk of Mesothelioma on Submarines?
The United States Navy used a large amount of asbestos-containing products to make its vessels, including submarines, for most of the 20th century.
Asbestos was used throughout submarines as a fireproofing agent dating back to World War I. It could be found in products like insulation, gaskets, and valves. Anyone who inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers was put at risk of developing mesothelioma decades later.
Fortunately, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have medical and financial options. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), skilled doctors, and private claims agents are standing by to help veterans access treatment and compensation.
Fortunately, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have medical and financial options. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), skilled doctors, and experienced attorneys are standing by to help veterans access treatment and compensation.
If you are a U.S. military veteran who served on a Navy submarine and later developed mesothelioma, learn how you can take action with our Free Veterans Packet.
List of Navy Submarines With Asbestos
Nearly 400 submarines commissioned by the U.S. Navy were built with asbestos-containing products. This was before the mineral was widely known to cause mesothelioma and other health issues.
U.S. Navy submarines with asbestos include:
- USS Albacore
- USS Atlanta
- USS Argonaut
- USS Balao
- USS Baltimore
- USS Baton Rouge
- USS Birmingham
- USS Boston
- USS Bremerton
- USS Cavalla
- USS Cincinnati
- USS Dallas
- USS Glenard P. Lipscomb
- USS Groton
- USS Houston
- USS Indianapolis
- USS Jacksonville
- USS L. Mendel Rivers
- USS La Jolla
- USS Los Angeles
- USS Memphis
- USS Michigan
- USS New York City
- USS Nautilus
- USS Omaha
- USS Parche
- USS Pompon
- USS Pollack
- USS Richard B. Russell
- USS Runner
- USS San Francisco
- USS Seawolf
- USS Tench
- USS Tunny
- USS Will Rogers
- USS William H. Bates
Please note that this is only a partial list of U.S. Navy submarines that used asbestos. Further, thousands of other U.S. Navy ships besides submarines also relied on this dangerous material.
U.S. Navy Submarine Jobs and Asbestos Dangers
Anyone who served aboard U.S. Navy submarines when asbestos products were in use may have been exposed. However, certain roles carried the greatest risk of asbestos exposure.
Those at high risk of asbestos-related diseases include:
- Boiler room workers
- Engine room workers
- Shipyard workers
Navy personnel with these occupations worked with asbestos products on a daily basis. These workers often removed damaged asbestos materials from vessels and replaced them with newer products.
Activities like these could send asbestos fibers flying into the air, where they could easily be inhaled.
Asbestos Products and U.S. Navy Submarines
The U.S. Navy used more asbestos-based products than any other military branch. The military and the general public were unaware of the mineral’s risks because manufacturers of asbestos products hid the facts for decades.
Asbestos materials were used in submarines and other Navy ships because they were heat resistant and cut down the risk of fires on board.
The dangers of fire were great on submarines — far greater than the danger on surface vessels. Fires can damage the hull of the submarine, making it dangerous to dive below the water.
Asbestos products on U.S. Navy submarines included:
- Packing materials
- Wire cloth
- Water pipes
The use of asbestos on submarines was well-documented. For example, the USS Triton used many asbestos-based products between 1956 and 1960.
Compressed asbestos served as insulation, wire asbestos cloth protected equipment from leaking heat, and quilts of asbestos felt insulated pipes. Asbestos spiral-wound gaskets also were used in automatic drain valves.
Unfortunately, submarines were cramped and poorly ventilated. As a result, asbestos fibers that were disturbed when products were damaged or replaced could linger in the ship’s environment for long spans of time.
Get help if you were exposed to asbestos in a Navy submarine and now have mesothelioma with our Free Veterans Packet.
History of Mesothelioma and Navy Submarines
The U.S. Navy mandated that asbestos was to be used aboard newly built submarines starting in 1922. From there, the use of asbestos steadily increased through World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
There are many classifications of submarines that relied on asbestos.
These include the following:
- Attack submarines (SSK): these submarines were responsible for seeking and destroying the enemy’s submarines and other types of vessels.
- Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN): these submarines provided the U.S. with the most powerful nuclear strike capacity.
- Guided missile submarines (SSGN): this type of submarine was equipped with tactical missiles to support both general strike forces and special operations.
- Nuclear-powered submarines (SSN): first introduced in 1954 with the USS Nautilus, these vessels could go further down below the ocean’s surface for longer periods of time than their predecessors.
- Radar picket submarines (SSR): this submarine class was designed to pick up threats or enemies on radar at a longer distance than normal. The USS Triton was studied as a potential mobile White House in the event of nuclear fallout in the 1960s.
Were you exposed to asbestos on a U.S. Navy submarine?
Call (877) 450-8973 to see if you qualify for VA benefits and compensation.
Many submarines that fall under these and other classifications may have been built with asbestos-containing products.
It would not be until decades later that the government stopped using this dangerous mineral and removed asbestos-based products from Navy submarines and other vessels.
Compensation Options for Asbestos Exposure on Submarines
U.S. veterans exposed to asbestos on submarines deserve compensation and benefits if they now have mesothelioma. Learn about top compensation options below.
The VA offers a wide range of health care benefits for mesothelioma patients and their families. Mesothelioma VA benefits include monthly payments, free or low-cost treatment, and financial aid for next of kin.
The disability payment for a married veteran with mesothelioma is $3,823.89 per month. Our team can help you start your VA claim today.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Veterans may be able to receive additional compensation by filing a trust fund claim. Asbestos trust funds were set up by makers of asbestos-based products that declared bankruptcy to avoid lawsuits for mesothelioma cases.
Skilled attorneys can help you and your family pursue VA benefits and asbestos trust fund claims at the same time.
A law firm can help you file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the makers of the asbestos products you were exposed to. Doing so won't affect your ability to file for VA benefits, and no legal action is taken against the military or government.
A lawyer may use proof of your mesothelioma diagnosis, medical records, and U.S. military service history to help you build a strong case and seek compensation.
Mesothelioma Navy Submarine Settlements
Most mesothelioma legal claims or lawsuits end through settlements, which can award Navy veterans exposed to asbestos on submarines significant payouts.
A mesothelioma settlement requires the makers of asbestos-based products to pay for the harm they've caused. In return, the lawsuit will not progress to a trial.
Settlements are important, as treating mesothelioma can be very expensive. A settlement can keep you and your family financially secure during this difficult time and for years to come.
Mesothelioma Navy submarine settlements include:
Learn more about how a settlement can help by connecting with a mesothelioma lawyer right now. Working with a skilled lawyer can make the legal process easier for you and your family.
Next Steps for U.S. Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma
If you or a loved one served on a U.S. Navy submarine and later developed mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or another asbestos disease, you have medical and financial options available.
Compensation from VA benefits, asbestos trust funds, and private settlements can be very helpful during your battle with mesothelioma.
For example, when your cancer is service-connected, much or all of your care may be paid for under your VA medical benefits. Surviving family members of veterans with mesothelioma can also access financial aid.
Get a Free Veterans Packet to learn more about these benefits and how to access them.
FAQs About Asbestos on Submarines
Was asbestos used in submarines?
Yes. Asbestos was used on almost all U.S. Navy submarines starting in 1922 due to government mandates.
The use of asbestos on submarines continued until the early 1980s when the risks were finally revealed to the general public. Steps were then taken to remove asbestos on submarines.
Why did U.S. Navy submarines use asbestos?
The U.S. Navy used asbestos on submarines since this material was heat resistant, very durable, and not corrosive.
Further, the deadly dangers of asbestos weren't fully known to the general public, so it was thought to be safe to use aboard submarines and other Navy vessels.
Is there still asbestos on Navy ships?
There are still asbestos-containing products on a handful of older U.S. Navy ships. This is because it was impossible to fully remove all of the asbestos.
However, the asbestos products on these older ships are sturdy and in good shape, meaning it doesn't pose a threat to human health.
A 2023 review of the Naval Vessel Register found that no U.S. Navy submarines that are currently active contain asbestos.
The U.S. Navy no longer uses asbestos to make new submarines or other U.S. Navy ships.