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Asbestos in the Navy

The United States Navy used large quantities of asbestos in its ships for much of the twentieth century. At one point, the Navy had a standing requirement that asbestos be used in as many applications as possible throughout its ships. Fortunately, those days are over, but the threat of asbestos still exists.

Asbestos appealed to the Navy because of its corrosion-proof nature, insulating ability, and its ability to withstand fire and prevent its spread. As a result, asbestos was ideal for numerous applications within ships. Sadly, the cramped quarters, poorly ventilated engine rooms, and contained areas, like those found on submarines, made the threat of exposure once asbestos fibers were released into the air very high.

On ships, asbestos was built into as many places that could possibly be exposed to heat or fire as possible. Insulation and pipe coverings, gaskets, meters, deck coverings, adhesives, and felts all were known to contain asbestos. In addition, there were hundreds of other applications, per ship, that utilized this “miracle mineral”.

Some of the ships known to have a history with asbestos include:

  • USS Corregidor CVE 58
  • USS Tarawa CV-40
  • USS Bonita SS-165
  • USS San Jacinto CVL 30
  • USS Philippine Sea (CV)
  • USS Bumper SS-333
  • USS Sicily CVE
  • USS Billfish SS-286
  • USS Cabot CVL 28
  • USS Idaho BB-42
  • USS Bullhead SS-332
  • USS Massachusetts BB-59
  • USS West Virginia BB-48
  • USS Balao SS-285
  • USS Balao SS-285
  • USS Bunker Hill CV 17
  • USS Brill SS-330
  • USS Albacore SS-218
  • USS Antietam CV-36
  • USS Coral Sea CV
  • USS Bashaw SS-241
  • USS Bang SS-385
  • USS Pennsylvania BB38
  • USS Langley (CV-1)
  • USS Bairoko CVE-115
  • USS Argonaut SS-475
  • USS Argonaut SM-1
  • USS South Dakota BB57
  • USS Aspro SS-309
  • USS Saratoga CV
  • USS Cabezon SS-334
  • USS Bonefish SS-223
  • USS Barbel SS-316
  • USS Badoeng Strait CVE 116
  • USS Besugo SS-321
  • USS Barbero SS-317
  • USS Maryland BB-46
  • USS Boarfish SS-327
  • USS Hoe SS-258
  • USS Ticonderoga CV-14
  • USS Yorktown CV 5
  • USS Bashaw SS-241
  • USS Oklahoma BB37
  • USS New Mexico BB-40
  • USS Barb SS-220
  • USS Colorado BB-45
  • USS Angler SS-240
  • USS Amberjack SS-219
  • USS Icefish SS-367
  • USS Arizona BB-39
  • USS Kete SS-369
  • USS Arkansas BB-33
  • USS Bowfin SS-287
  • USS Blackfish SS-221
  • USS Washington BB56
  • USS Atule SS-403
  • USS Sitkoh Bay
  • USS Hawkbill SS-366
  • USS Blenny SS-324
  • USS Shangri La CV 38
  • USS Missouri BB-63
  • USS Barb SS-220
  • USS Kearsarge CV-33
  • USS Kitty Hawk
  • USS Hake SS-256
  • USS Yorktown CV 10
  • USS America
  • SS Nevada BB-36
  • USS Bugara SS-331
  • USS Enterprise CV 6
  • USS Atule SS-403
  • USS Billfish SS-286
  • USS Harder SS-257
  • USS Carbonero SS-337
  • USS Archer-Fish SS-311
  • USS Tennessee BB43
  • USS Independence CVL-22
  • USS Barbel SS-316
  • USS Aspro SS-309
  • USS Wolverine IX 64
  • USS Kingfish SS-234
  • USS Bream SS-243
  • USS California BB-44
  • USS Bon Homme Richard CVA 31
  • USS New Jersey
  • USS Bergall SS-320
  • USS Apogon SS-308
  • USS Texas BB35
  • USS Valley Forge CV
  • USS Blackfin SS-322
  • USS Burrfish SS-312
  • USS New York BB34
  • USS Utah BB31
  • USS Barbero SS-317
  • USS Hardhead SS-365
  • USS Lake Champlain (CV-39)
  • USS Sable IX
  • USS Saratoga CV 3
  • USS Midway (CV-41
  • USS Boxer CV 21
  • USS Belleau Wood CVL 24
  • USS Iowa BB-61
  • USS Hammerhead SS-364
  • USS Bluegill SS-242
  • USS Barracuda SS-163
  • USS Bang SS-385
  • USS Intrepid CV-11
  • USS Jack SS-259
  • USS Bluefish SS-222
  • USS Jallao SS-368
  • USS North Carolina BB55
  • USS Wasp CV 18
  • USS Blower SS-325
  • USS Cowpens CVL 25
  • USS Lexington (CV-2)
  • USS Alabama BB-60
  • USS Leyte (CV-32)
  • USS Blueback SS-326
  • USS Bergall SS-320
  • USS Barracuda SS-163
  • USS Besugo SS-321
  • USS Bennington CV 20
  • USS Argonaut SS-475
  • USS Constellation CV 64

Shipyards are already known to be dangerous areas for asbestos exposure. Once a sailor was on board, the asbestos was also inescapable in close quarters. There have been stories from some ships of sailors sleeping in bunks that were stacked below asbestos-covered pipes. These pipes, in some instances, flaked so badly that the sailors had to shake the asbestos-containing flakes out of their beds each day.

The Navy was aware of asbestos’ dangers since a memo was passed around in 1922. This stirred up some interest in preventing the tragedies that typically follow asbestos exposure, but, with World War II, priorities shifted from removing asbestos to building as many new ships containing asbestos as possible.

Contact Us

If you have served in the Navy and would like to learn more about the dangers associated with asbestos in the Navy, contact an asbestos attorney today at 800-781-3955.

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