Asbestos on U.S. Navy Ships

Asbestos was used in almost every ship built by the U.S. Navy for over 45 years.  U.S. Navy veterans that have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may be able to access financial compensation and VA benefits.

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U.S. Navy Ships and Mesothelioma

The U.S. Navy used more asbestos than any other branch of the military. The military branch relied on asbestos because it was lightweight, fire-resistant, and corrosion-resistant.

Did You Know? Asbestos-containing products were widely used in almost every U.S. Navy ship from the 1930s until the 1980s.

When disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne for hours, sticking to the clothing, hair, or skin of anyone nearby. This is how Navy service members spread asbestos to other parts of ships and barracks.

Due to poor air circulation and small compartments on ships, those aboard had a high risk of inhaling asbestos fibers. Once these fibers are inhaled, they become lodged in the lungs.

This can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases decades after exposure.

It can take 20-50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to occur after asbestos exposure, so veterans who were exposed decades ago are only now developing mesothelioma.

U.S. Navy veterans who developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during their service have options to receive compensation.

U.S. Navy veterans with mesothelioma may seek compensation by:

These options may help the brave veterans of the U.S. Navy receive the compensation and justice they deserve.

Asbestos-Containing Products on Navy Ships

Asbestos-containing materials were in nearly every United States Navy ship built from the 1930s to the 1970s. There were no exceptions.

Fire was a significant concern in ships loaded with fuel that were highly heated and vulnerable to attack. Asbestos products, however, would not burn.

Asbestos was thermally inert and made perfect insulation for steam pipes and fuel lines. The mineral was non-conductive, so it coated miles of electrical cables throughout the ships. It did not corrode, was lightweight, and added strength to other products.

Asbestos was also low-cost, readily available, and stable to work with.

Asbestos-containing products used to build Navy ships included:

  • Boilers
  • Capacitors and meters
  • Cement powder and mortar mix
  • Deck and floor tiles
  • Dielectric paper and relays
  • Electrical wire coatings
  • Fireboxes and liners
  • Gaskets
  • Instruments & instrument paneling
  • Packings, sealants, & adhesives
  • Paint and wallboard
  • Pipe and duct wrappings
  • Pumps
  • Soundproofing materials
  • Spray-on insulation
  • Valves

The asbestos fibers in these products could get released into the air and inhaled or ingested, but not everyone in the Navy had an equal risk of asbestos exposure.

U.S. Navy Ship Jobs with High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

No one was safe from exposure on a U.S. Navy ship built during the time of widespread asbestos use. However, certain individuals were at greater risk for occupational asbestos exposure.

Below-deck sailors and engineers had more prolonged asbestos fiber exposure than open-air personnel. That is because confined and poorly ventilated spaces like engine and boiler rooms trapped friable (easily crumbled) asbestos particles in dust clouds called asbestos dust.

Below, learn more about some of the highest-risk U.S. Navy ship occupations for asbestos exposure.


The men who worked on U.S. Navy ship boilers were at increased risk of asbestos exposure because most steam boilers made before 1980 were made of or insulated with asbestos. Boilermen also wore asbestos gloves covered with the deadly mineral to protect them from heat and flames.

Machinist’s Mates

Machinist’s mates serviced the engines and other equipment used to power Navy ships.

Engine rooms were often full of asbestos-containing materials such as piping, insulation, and gaskets. Working in these engine rooms for long periods of time put machinist’s mates and enginemen at particularly high risk of asbestos exposure.


Working on piping in U.S. Navy ships put pipefitters at increased risk of asbestos exposure.

When pipefitters had to remove and reinstall insulation — a common task — the asbestos used in the insulation could easily be disturbed and released into the air, where they would be inhaled.

Other High-Risk Navy Ship Jobs

There were a number of other jobs aboard Navy ships that often exposed servicemembers to asbestos.

Other occupations with a high risk of asbestos exposure include:

  • Electricians
  • Engine room technicians
  • Firefighters
  • Hull maintenance specialists
  • Gunnery technicians
  • Weapons specialists
  • Insulators and painters
  • Panel installers
  • Mechanics
  • Plumbers
  • Tile setters
  • Welders and steel fabricators

These individuals often worked with asbestos-containing materials, repairing and replacing them and releasing the toxic minerals in the air.

List of Navy Ships that Used Asbestos

In the 1980s, the U.S. Navy began an abatement program to remove or contain asbestos-containing products in all Navy vessels.

Many had such extensive networks of asbestos-containing components that it was more practical to sink the ships as target practice rather than strip and refit these aging vessels.

Asbestos-containing products were extensively used on these ship types:

Aircraft Carriers

  • Ammunition freighters
  • Amphibious assault craft
  • Auxiliary Ships
  • Battleships
  • Corvettes
  • Cruisers
  • Cutters
  • Destroyers
  • Destroyer escorts
  • Escort carriers
  • Explosives freighters
  • Frigates
  • Hospital vessels
  • Landing craft
  • Liberty ships
  • Merchant marine ships
  • Minesweepers
  • Oilers and tankers
  • Patrol boats
  • Submarines
  • Troop carriers

When the U.S. Navy finally began to remove asbestos products from the ships, it was too late for thousands of veterans who were already exposed.

U.S. Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease after their service are encouraged to contact a lawyer to learn how they may be able to access financial compensation.

Help for U.S. Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

United States Navy veterans breathed in asbestos fibers during their naval service, especially those aboard ships, unknowing how deadly asbestos could be.

Now, long after their retirements and discharges, many have been struck by a duty-related, disabling disease. They deserve to be compensated.

Veterans who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos on Navy ships can receive mesothelioma veterans benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

While filing a claim with the VA can provide valuable aid for veterans and their families, the sometimes complicated and time-consuming process may make some veterans hesitate.

Our team is here to help you through every step of the VA claims process so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.

In addition to VA benefits, veterans have the legal right to pursue other forms of compensation. Many veterans turn to specialized law firms that can help file asbestos-related disease lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims.

Mesothelioma law firms help victims:

  • Learn when, where, and how they were exposed to asbestos
  • File lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims
  • Receive financial compensation
  • Gather information needed to file a VA claim

To learn more about receiving compensation, start your free case review today.

Easier Than It May Seem

Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a mesothelioma claim?

A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?

An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.

How do I file a mesothelioma claim?

To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.

What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?

The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.

How long do mesothelioma claims take?

Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.

Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.

What is the average payout for mesothelioma?

There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.

How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?

Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.

What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?

Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:

  • Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
  • Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
  • Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
    A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)

Contact us to learn more.

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