Asbestos Exposure at Every Turn
The big guns boom, and the recoil rocks the ship. Three decks below, two sailors in their bunks joke about the “fairy dust” sprinkling on their faces from the pipes 12 inches above their heads.
A shipyard electrician takes off his shirt. The air is hot and floating with fibers he disturbed in the tight space. His bare-handed splice complete, he wipes the sweat and grime from his face.
The machinist is having a heck of a time with this valve. The nut is stripped, and the unit is being replaced anyway. He swings the pipe wrench, knocking the apparatus loose on the third try in a shower of debris.
Asbestos was everywhere on a Navy ship, but the shipbuilders and sailors did not learn of the danger to their health until years later — when it was too late to matter.
Asbestos Disease Claims From Service on Navy Ships
Wallace & Graham, P.A. represents retired Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine veterans sick or dying from mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. We have helped clients now scattered across the United States who worked in the naval shipyards or served at sea from the 1940s through the 1980s. Our lawyers are committed to the best medical treatment and full compensation for those who served their country.
The toxic mineral asbestos was ever present because of its crucial role as a fire retardant and insulating material. Virtually anyone in the Navy was at risk for minor exposure — all it takes to develop mesothelioma cancer. The heaviest exposure occurred to those who worked on or around:
Pipes — The miles of pipes that ran the length of ships were routinely treated with spray-on asbestos fireproofing. Pipefitters and insulators were at greatest risk for mesothelioma/asbestosis from direct contact. The coating often flaked off whenever pipes were disturbed, putting the rest of the crew at secondary risk.
Pumps, Valves and Gaskets — The packing in water pumps, fuel pumps and valves used asbestos for its pliability, resistance to corrosion and stability under heat and pressure extremes. Many gaskets also contained asbestos to resist the high heat and because the material does not expand and contract with the temperature. Machinists, pipefitters, engineers and other engine room/boiler room personnel would have had hands-on exposure.
Wiring — For years, electrical wire was wrapped with asbestos for its electrical insulation and fireproofing qualities. Electricians and carpenters had substantial exposure.
- Also see: Boilers & Turbines
Wallace & Graham, P.A. is adept at tracing the duty stations and specific exposures of Navy veterans. We use the Navy’s own service records (form DD-214), recollections of shipmates, family photos, letters and postcards, and other clues to get clients service-rated for VA disability or to determine which product manufacturers can be sued for wrongful death damages.