Workers and Others Who Spent Time at the Avondale Shipyard May Have Been Exposed to Harmful Asbestos

Many maritime companies have operated out of Louisiana, given its location along the Intracoastal Waterway. Asbestos was once commonly used in the shipbuilding industry, eventually giving rise to many asbestos cases in the state of Louisiana.

Photo by Michal Mrozek on Unsplash

The history of Avondale Shipyard

In 1938, Avondale Shipyard began operating as a barge construction and repair company. The shipyard took on government contracts during World War II and continued to do so until it closed down in 2014. 

Avondale Shipyard ownership exchanged many hands over the years, beginning with James G. Viavant, and including prominent owners such as Litton Industries, Northrop Grumman, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and finally, Avondale Marine LLC. 

World War II and the Avondale Shipyard

Its years of operation spanned World War II (WWII) and the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. The number of employees who worked at the shipyard during WWII alone was 26,000. 

The types of ships built and serviced at Avondale included destroyers, barges, amphibious ships, oil rigs, tug boats, cargo ships, drilling barges, container vessels, dredges, tankers, frigates, and more. Some of the most noteworthy ships built or worked on at Avondale include USS Patterson, USS Trippe, USS Joseph Hewes, USS Cook, USS Kirk, USS Ainsworth, and USS Valdez, among others. 

Decades of asbestos use at Avondale Shipyard

For most of its decades of operation, asbestos was prevalently used at Avondale Shipyard. Both military service members and civilians worked aboard ships and in the shipyards, working amongst the tons of asbestos that was used in shipbuilding between the 1930s and 1980s. 

Why Were So Many Sailing Vessels Built With Asbestos?

The properties of asbestos are ideal for shipbuilding; it is robust, and highly resistant to fire and heat, making it the perfect choice for decreasing fire risks with heavy ship equipment.

Some of the primary ways asbestos was used in maritime work included insulation to walls, incinerators, boilers, and pipes. For example, a cloth-like material called asbestos lagging was often used to insulate a ship’s steam pipes, and often contained as much as 90% asbestos. In addition, shipyard employees would sometimes even manufacture their own lagging onsite, putting them at even higher risk of asbestos exposure. 

Such heavy asbestos use and poor ventilation within the ships led to significant asbestos exposure to many thousands of workers. 

Lawsuits for Asbestos Exposure at Avondale Shipyard

Decades of working with asbestos caused many workers to develop an asbestos-related illness. Whether working directly with the mineral or spending time in poorly ventilated areas where asbestos materials were being disrupted, Avondale workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Whether inadvertently ingested or inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause a range of lung diseases and mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer. 

Compensation for Asbestos-Related Health Problems from Working at Avondale Shipyard

Multiple lawsuits have been brought against Avondale Shipyards, including one man who was awarded $4.9 million after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Some claims also relate to family members who were exposed to asbestos by living with workers of the shipyard. Asbestos dust can remain on clothing and be brought home where individuals not otherwise exposed to it can breathe it in and subsequently fall ill. 


If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.

AsbestosClaims.Law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos. We hope this information is helpful.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, check out our website and YouTube page for videos, infographics and answers to your questions about asbestos, including health and safety, asbestos testing, removing asbestos from your home and building, and legal information about compensation for asbestos injuries.

And if you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, or have been diagnosed with an asbestos illness, you could be entitled to significant compensation—money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being. 

All without filing a lawsuit.

If you’d like help with filing a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (206) 455-9190. We’ll listen to your story and explain your options. And we never charge for anything unless you receive money in your pocket.