Sources of Asbestos Exposure / Asbestos in the U.S. Navy / List of Ship Classes / Asbestos on Aircraft Carriers
During World War II, American planners never doubted that the United States would eventually defeat Japan. However, in the early stages of the war, “eventually” seemed like it would be a very long time. The unexpected and overwhelming American victory at Midway, which has been the subject of various movies and books, changed that outlook.
American Aircraft Carriers Helped Win World War II.
They Also Contained a Lot of Asbestos.
Four American aircraft carriers, the Lexington, Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet, played a pivotal role in the victory at Midway, which happened just six months after the disaster at Pearl Harbor. Unbeknownst to the brave people who served on board these carriers, the asbestos that these ships contained was almost as dangerous as the Japanese bombs and bullets that flew through the sky during the battle.
Fireproofing Aircraft Carriers with Asbestos
Until the Cold War era, aircraft carriers like these had wooden flight decks. Since fire was such a serious hazard, these vessels had significant amounts of asbestos in materials like:
- Coated cloth,
- Foam glass,
- Fibrous glass surfaces,
- Insulation blocks,
- Acoustical absorptive boards,
- Vinylidene resin, and
- Deck tiles.
Then as now, government contracts usually go to the lowest bidder. Therefore, builders used the cheapest possible materials. Asbestos was very cheap and also very effective, so despite the known health risks, shipbuilders used it in large quantities.
Everyone who was on board an aircraft carrier which was built before 1975, and therefore contained asbestos, is at risk for mesothelioma and other serious asbestos exposure illnesses. The highest at-risk individuals include:
- Electrician’s Mates: Asbestos doesn’t conduct electricity. So, shipbuilders used asbestos for insulation. Usually, EMs wore no protective equipment, not even a breathing mask. These individuals normally were exposed to asbestos.
- Welders: If a carrier sustained any combat or other damage, the Navy immediately called in the welders and other repair workers. Once again, these individuals had no protection against airborne asbestos fibers.
When sailors who served on aircraft carriers develop an asbestos related illness, they may file disability claims with the Veterans Administration, defective product claims against an asbestos manufacturer, or asbestos trust fund claims.
AsbestosClaims.law is your comprehensive resource for all things asbestos, including info on health and compensation for Air Force Veterans and other former Service Members. We hope this is helpful and are grateful to all who have given of themselves to defend us all.
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