Asbestos in Shipyards

The extensive use of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in ship and submarine construction has led to a growing concern among the military personnel and civilians who have worked in the shipbuilding industry.

Shipyards are the workplace for a number of occupations, including construction workers, electricians, mechanics, longshoremen, carpenters, plumbers and Naval personnel. All of these workers would most likely have been exposed to high levels of asbestos, particularly if they worked in shipyards from the late 1930s to the mid-1970s.

Asbestos is well known for its insulating and fireproofing qualities as well as its ability to resist corrosion and high temperatures. It is also famous for its strength and durability – all qualities that make it extremely valuable in ships. A wide array of products and items, including boilers, hot water pipes, steam pipes, valves, incinerators and electrical wiring contained asbestos. The Navy actually mandated the use of asbestos-containing products in more than 300 items, despite the fact that its health hazards have been known to the military since at least 1939.

Asbestos in Shipyards

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

For any of these workers, compounding the problem was the tendency for asbestos dust to accumulate. Because the ships typically had inadequate ventilation systems, undertaking duties in these cramped quarters would have exposed any number of workers to asbestos exposure.

When asbestos is disturbed or broken, it can release microscopic, needle-like fibers into the air. These fibers, although they cannot be seen by the naked eye, can easily be inhaled or swallowed. The fibers settle into the mesothelium, the protective membrane surrounding most of the internal organs. From there, the fibers can cause healthy cells to become cancerous. The result, mesothelioma is often not diagnosed until decades after the asbestos exposure first occurred.

Below you will find a list of shipyards where workers may have been exposed to asbestos:

  • Alabama Dry Dock
  • The Albina Shipyard
  • The American Ship Building Company
  • The Astoria Voyage Repair Station
  • Atlantic Dry Dock
  • Avondale Industries
  • Bath Iron Works
  • Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Co.
  • Bethlehem Steel Corporation
  • Boats of Freeport
  • Bollinger Shipyards
  • The Boston Navy Yard
  • The Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Caddell Dry Dock
  • Carolina Shipping Company
  • The Charleston Navy Shipyard
  • The Charlestown Navy Yard
  • Consolidated Steel Shipyard
  • Curtis Bay shipyard
  • The Defoe Shipyard
  • Detyens Shipyards
  • The Dyer Shipyard
  • The Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock
  • Fore River Shipyard
  • Groton Naval Base
  • Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
  • Ingalls Shipbuilding
  • Kaiser Shipyard
  • Long Beach Naval Shipyard
  • The Lyon Shipyard
  • The Mare Island Naval Shipyard
  • Mayport Navy Station
  • Moore Dry Dock
  • Norfolk Naval Shipyard
  • Pearl Harbor
  • The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
  • Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
  • National Shipyards
  • The Naval Station Pascagoula
  • The Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck
  • New York Shipbuilding Corporation
  • Newport Naval Station
  • The Newport News Shipyard
  • Northwest Marine Ironworks
  • Pensacola Naval Air Station
  • The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
  • The Portland Ship Repair Yard
  • Rough and Ready Island Ship Repair
  • San Diego Naval Shipyard and Air Station
  • Seward Ships Drydock
  • The South Portland Shipyard
  • Bethlehem Steel
  • Sun Shipbuilding
  • Swan Island Shipyard
  • Tacoma Drydock
  • Terminal Island Naval Shipyard
  • The Todd Shipyards Corporation
  • Todd Shipyards
  • Todd Shipyards
  • Todd Shipyards Seattle
  • Todd Shipyards
  • Tongue Point Naval Shipyard
  • Vancouver Shipyard
  • The Voyage Repair Station
  • The Washington Navy Yard
  • Western Shipyard
  • Willamette Iron and Steel Yard

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