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Asbestos was used for decades in construction and shipbuilding. If you or someone close to you has worked as a drywaller, pipefitter, or in the Navy, you may have been exposed to harmful asbestos fibers. Learn more >

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Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, or more commonly known as Bremerton Naval Shipyard, in Washington State was established in 1891. From World War I through the Korean War, the workers at this site constructed, repaired, and activated a variety of Navy ships. The site remains a busy hub of shipbuilding and repair activities, and is currently known as PSNS & IMF, or the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

The men and women who have worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard deserve respect for their important work. Unfortunately, they have not always been treated accordingly. From the 1930’s through the 1970’s, many members of the US Navy were exposed to the toxic substance asbestos – generally without safety gear or even a warning of its dangers.

Asbestos Use in the Navy

Because asbestos is cheap and highly durable, the Navy used it extensively for much of the 20th century. Anyone who served in the Navy prior to 1970 may have been exposed to asbestos dust when handling common materials such as:

  • Sheet metal
  • Pipe and wire insulation
  • Brakes and clutches
  • Cement
  • Caulk

Whenever materials that contain asbestos are welded, broken, or manipulated, asbestos dust can be released into the air and inhaled. This dust is composed of small, sharp fibers that can cause considerable damage to the lungs and other internal organs. Over time, this damage can progress into life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions often develop very gradually. This means that years or decades can pass between asbestos exposure and diagnosis of one of these illnesses. As a result, many sailors and civilians who worked in Navy shipyards in the 1940’s and 1950’s are only now discovering the consequences of asbestos exposure.

Tragically, the prognosis for mesothelioma is often poor. Because develops so slowly, it is often not diagnosed until it reaches the later stages, which are more difficult to treat. If you constructed or repaired Navy ships prior to 1970, it is very important to share this information with your doctor. He or she can then help you monitor your health to catch any potential problems as early as possible.

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