Almost all of the aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy during World War II were escort carriers. None of these vessels remain today, not even in a port or a museum. Most escort carriers were converted commercial ships, so they were easy to build. These vessels usually protected supply convoys. With the notable exception of the Battle off Samar, these slow ships proved to be nearly defenseless in combat. Additionally, all escort carriers were built before 1975, which means they all contained asbestos.
Escort Carriers Were Vital to Winning World War II
In October 1944, the powerful Third Fleet chased a decoy away from the Philippines, leaving light escort ships and slow aircraft to protect supplies in Leyte Gulf. The Japanese pounced, led by eight cruisers and four battleships, including the Yamato. The outgunned “Taffies” fought so hard and so well the Japanese believed the force was much larger. They retreated, but not before they sank two ships and severely damaged several others.
The losses of ships and men at the Battle off Samar exceeded the combined losses in Battles of Midway and the Coral Sea.
Aside from that vicious battle, enemy action wasn’t a threat to most escort carriers. The asbestos on board these ships was a different matter. Sailors who served on hot ships in the hot Central and South Pacific never wore heavy protective clothes. So, they often inhaled the asbestos fibers floating through the air. These fibers, which cause cancers like mesothelioma, are also small enough to pass through tiny holes in the body or even directly through the skin.
Areas of US Naval Escort Carriers That Carried a Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Many Naval vessels built during World War II and the Cold War mostly contained asbestos in the engine room and munitions areas, where the risk of fire was greatest. Escort carriers were different, as the fire danger was almost everywhere. Examples include:
- Flight Decks: Escort carriers, like full-size aircraft carriers of the day, had wooden flight decks. Furthermore, until the late Cold War era, aviation was very dangerous and crashes were common, especially on aircraft carriers. A greater fire risk meant a greater amount of asbestos.
- Engine Rooms: Escort carriers were quite slow, as mentioned above. So, captains usually pushed the engines to the max. Sustained operation near operational capacity made fires common in engine rooms. Mostly because of the smoke, even a small fire could be fatal. Once again, more risk meant more asbestos.
- Floor Tiles: Most people don’t think about asbestos in floor tiles. Such tiles are very common in homes built before the 1980s and in ships built before 1975. Floor tiles take a pounding. Even hairline cracks, which often developed before the ship entered service (U.S. Navy ships weren’t known for their extravagant floor tiles), could release asbestos fibers into the air.
Shipbuilders also used asbestos paper to insulate electric wires throughout an escort carrier. Absesos doesn’t conduct electricity and is waterproof. So, if you flipped a switch or walked on the floor on board an escort carrier, you were probably exposed to asbestos fibers.
That’s the bad news. The good news is substantial compensation is available from several sources, and our lawyers are here to help.
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.
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 (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (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.