Navy veterans who served from the 1930’s through the 1990’s are at risk for developing mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos that was widely used in ship building and construction materials. Virtually every ship commissioned between 1930 and about 1970 contained several tons of asbestos insulation in the engine room, along the miles of pipe aboard ship and in the walls and doors as a fireproofing measure.

The Navy’s major use of asbestos aboard ships was as thermal insulation. In October 1975, the Navy issued a policy to eliminate the use of asbestos and materials containing asbestos, where suitable alternate materials have been designated, after specifications had been revised to eliminate asbestos as an acceptable material for thermal insulation. Although product specifications for thermal insulation had been changed in 1973 to specify the use of asbestos-free materials, asbestos materials had already been purchased and in some cases installed in ships under construction. Therefore, some ships were delivered with asbestos insulation as late as May 1978.

Even though the use of asbestos as thermal insulation had been eliminated, asbestos use continued for other Navy applications. Asbestos fibers were incorporated in:

  • the plastic-like body of certain electrical resistors found in Navy electronic equipment
  • tiles on Navy ship decks
  • electrical cabling in Navy galley ranges
  • piping system gaskets and packing
  • brakes and clutches in Navy ship equipment

Navy veterans at risk for developing mesothelioma

The Navy veterans who manned these ships and the men who repaired them in shipyards were prime candidates for asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos is most hazardous when the material is easily crumbled by hand and its fibers released into the air. These fibers may get into the lungs through the air that we breathe. Therefore, Navy veterans at risk for mesothelioma include:

  • Navy veterans who were involved in renovation or removal of asbestos-containing structures or materials.
  • Navy veterans who worked below deck before the early 1990s, where asbestos was often used with poor ventilation.
  • Navy veterans involved with removing damaged asbestos lagging in engine rooms and using asbestos paste to re-wrap the pipes.
  • Navy veterans who served on ships whose keels were laid before 1983.
  • Welders, pipe fitters, bolier operators, building renovation and demolition specialists who worked in the military services before the mid-1990s.

In the late 1970s, the concept of a one-time total asbestos removal on all ships was reviewed by the Navy. With an estimated cost for total asbestos replacement in all ships at nearly $2 billion, the Navy decided not to adopt a one-time total asbestos removal policy.

Navy veteran legal rights

Navy veterans cannot file a lawsuit against the government for damages incurred during service in the Armed Forces. However, there is an opportunity to file an asbestos lawsuit against the the companies that manufactured or installed the asbestos products which caused eventual development of asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Hundreds of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against asbestos companies for product liability compensation. Veterans are entitled to take legal action and have a good chance of prevailing.

If you are a Navy veteran and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to receive compensation. If you want to talk to an asbestos attorney about the nature of asbestos legal action, please contact us today.