Sources of Asbestos Exposure / Asbestos in the U.S. Navy / List of Ship Classes / Asbestos on Cutters
These workhorse naval vessels, which first appeared in the 1790s, are bigger than patrol boats and smaller than destroyers. Back then, the sailors aboard these vessels bravely took on ships that were much bigger and more powerful than cutters. Onboard fires were a constant hazard. Munitions accidentally exploded, and minor combat damage could cause a major fire. Shipbuilders thought asbestos was the answer to these problems. They thought wrong.
Asbestos Was Used to Fireproof US Naval Cutters
Nevertheless, shipbuilders continued using asbestos on U.S. Navy and Coast Guard cutters until the mid 1970s. A single asbestos fiber could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other serious, and often fatal, illnesses. Fortunately, these victims, who often don’t get sick for several decades following exposure, don’t have to suffer alone.
Compensation is available for the staggering medical bills these victims must pay. Legal options include a VA disability claim, a defective product action against the shipbuilder that used asbestos, and a claim with an asbestos victim compensation fund. All these options have some pros and cons which victims should discuss with their attorneys.
US Naval Veterans At RIsk for Asbestos Exposure and Health Problems from Serving on Cutters
Anyone who has ever served on a Coast Guard or other cutter can attest to the fact that these vessels are small and cramped. So, anyone who was on board could have inhaled an asbestos fiber. These fibers are also small enough to absorb directly through the skin. The highest at-risk groups are:
- Machinist Mates: On-board machines, like pumps, oil purifiers, elevators, generators, air conditioning systems, refrigeration plants, and desalination plants, generate significant amounts of heat and noise. These machines have been known to spontaneously combust and cause hearing problems. As a result, shipbuilders used as much asbestos-laced insulation as possible in these areas.
- Pipefitters: When actor Steve McQueen was in the Navy, his superiors supposedly punished him by making him scrape asbestos fibers off pipes. Mesothelioma, the aforementioned asbestos-related cancer, killed McQueen when he was only 51 years old. His premature death highlights the dangers Navy pipefitters dealt with, as well as the dangers of asbestos exposure.
- Engineers: A cutter’s propulsion system, especially the boilers, generated more heat than all the generators, oil purifiers, and other systems mentioned above put together. The engineers who operated these propulsion systems were highly at risk for asbestos exposure. The unfortunate engineers who maintained these propulsion systems faced an even higher risk.
No matter when Navy asbestos exposure victims served their country, compensation from one of the three sources mentioned above is usually available.
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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