Unlike the other ships in the U.S. Navy, like destroyer escorts, most tugs and tenders stay pretty close to the shoreline. So, the men and women who serve aboard these vessels have little to fear from enemy action, even during wartime. Unfortunately for these sailors, the most serious threat to their health and safety may have been inside the ships they served on.
Beginning in the late 1800s, shipbuilders almost exclusively used asbestos to fireproof these vessels, and for many other purposes as well. Because of its serious health hazards, the EPA banned asbestos in 1987. So, if you served aboard a tender or tug in World War II or the early Cold War, you were most likely exposed to asbestos fibers. A single, microscopic fiber is so toxic that it could cause a fatal illness.
Tug and Tender Sailors At-Risk for Asbestos Exposure and Health Problems
Although tenders and tugs aren’t oceangoing ships, for all intents and purposes, these sailors lived on these ships. Such vessels are so small that anyone who walked across the gangplank was probably exposed to asbestos ducting and other hazards. High risk positions include:
- Deck Hands: Mostly to reduce weight, tugs and tenders usually have wood decks. A layer of asbestos is usually below the wooden planks, to prevent fires from spreading. Between the weather and the foot traffic, wood decks take so much punishment that tiny cracks inevitably appear. That means asbestos in the air.
- Electrician Mates: Since asbestos doesn’t conduct electricity, shipbuilders usually used it to insulate electrical wires. Asbestos is also waterproof, making it even more attractive. These qualities, along with the low cost of asbestos, mean that EMs who worked around wires usually inhaled asbestos fibers.
- Boiler Techs: The engine is the hottest area of any ship. The extreme fire hazard usually prompted shipbuilders to double down on asbestos in these areas. Additionally, the boilers themselves, along with other mechanical gadgets in the engine room, often contained asbestos parts.
Veterans who were exposed to asbestos usually show signs of illness between fifty and seventy years after exposure.
No matter how much time has passed, legal options for these victims usually include a VA disability claim, a defective product lawsuit, or an asbestos victim compensation fund claim.
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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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.
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