Founded in 1966, Atlantic Drydock was spun off from Atlantic Marine, Inc. in response to the growing need for ship repair services in order to support existing ship construction operations. Within fifteen years, Atlantic Drydock had outgrown its original facilities. The company expanded its original facility located along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, adding additional repair piers, new launchways and a 4,000-ton marine railway.
The Jacksonville facility, located two miles from the open waters of the Atlantic, now has a 16,000 ton floating dry dock as well as a 1300 foot repair and outfitting wharf which is equipped with two gantry cranes with 35 and 90 ton capacities along a river depth of 38 feet.
In recent years, Atlantic Drydock and its parent company have instituted an aggressive worker safety program. Through a combination of education, monitoring and financial incentives, the company has been able to maintain an injury/illness rate substantially below industry averages. The company was the 2003 winner of the National Safety Council’s Green Cross of Safety Excellence Achievement. The sign in front of their Jacksonville facility identifies Atlantic as the “Safest Shipyard in America”.
While Atlantic Drydock Corporation’s safety achievements are laudable, the fact remains that prior to 1980, the use of asbestos was endemic throughout the shipbuilding industry.
Between 1930 and 1980, asbestos insulation was frequently used by the shipbuilding and repair industry as a flame retardant. Virtually every piece of equipment aboard a ship – including engines, pipes and pipe fittings, turbines, boilers, heaters and electric conduits – were coated with asbestos sprays. In the early days, these were primarily amosite and crocidolite, which are especially dangerous forms of asbestos. Later, the somewhat less deadly chrysolite variety of asbestos became more common.
The dangers of asbestos, such as the risk of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma, were known since the late 1930s. However, this information was actively suppressed during World War II, ostensibly for security reasons; the Roosevelt Administration feared that were shipyard workers told of the hazards, it might cause “disturbances in the labor element”.
Information regarding the health hazards posed by asbestos was actively suppressed by the asbestos industry; cases of conspiracy are well-documented. In 1977, the discovery of the “Sumner Simpson Letters” in the corporate offices of Raysbestos, Inc. exposed the extent of this conspiracy of silence.
If You Were Injured
The first asbestos-related lawsuit was filed against Johns-Manville the same year Atlantic Drydock Inc. began operations. At that time, knowledge of asbestos’ deadly nature and its connection to asbestos cancer and asbestosis had only just begun to reach the general public. Based on the relative youth of the company and its established record of concern for employee safety, it is unlikely that any deliberate and willful negligence on the part of Atlantic Drydock could successfully be demonstrated, even if a plaintiff were to show that his/her malignant mesothelioma was a result of employment at said company.
In this case, the defendant in the action would likely be the manufacturer(s) of asbestos products used on the premises. This would involve the subpoena of any company records dating from that time, which is a fairly straight-forward and standard legal procedure.
If you have mesothelioma and were an employee at Atlantic Drydock Corporation prior to 1980, it is important to have the disease properly diagnosed and retain a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible, as statutes of limitations may give you as little as one year to file a claim.