Todd’s San Francisco

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Todd Pacific is a marine construction and repair corporation with headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Starting out as a relatively small operation in Brooklyn, New York known as Robins Dry Dock and Repair, the company merged with two other operations located in Hoboken, New Jersey and Seattle to form what became Todds Pacific.

At its height, Todd Pacific Shipyards operated facilities in Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and California as well as New York and New Jersey. During the Second World War, the Alameda Shipyard was one of the primary ship repair facilities for the U.S. Navy. Originally owned by Bethlehem Steel, Todd Pacific Shipyards leased the yard after the war in anticipation of a demand for larger passenger and cargo vessels as well as tankers.

Between 1949 and 1959, Todd’s San Francisco Division was a major ship building operation. Considered one of the most advanced shipbuilding facilities of its time, the Alameda operation was also involved in flood control equipment as well as aerospace. During the 1960s, Todd Pacific Shipbuilding produced four large T-2 Class tankers, and gained a bit of fame when the company launched the Wodeco IV – a mammoth drilling boat created by joining two parallel T-2 tanker hulls. It was the largest such craft ever built.

By the turn of the 21st century, Todds San Francisco had ceased marine industrial services and had leased most of the buildings out for use as warehouses. At the time, there was some consideration of adding the former shipbuilding site to the National Register of Historic places.

Industrial Use of Asbestos

High-risk occupations at any shipyard include machinist, welder, metal worker, and machine operator. The more time spent in the enclosed areas below decks means greater exposure to some of the more deadly forms of asbestos – principally amosite and crocidolite, both of which were in common use during the 1940s. Most shipyard employees who worked prior to the 1980s are likely to have suffered some degree of exposure, and are therefore at risk of developing asbestosis, a form of scaring in the lungs, or mesothelioma, a rare but deadly type of asbestos cancer.

The federal government had issued some protective guidelines by 1943, recommending the use of respirators. These did not have the force of law, however, and were not enforced until after the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the early 1970s.

In filing asbestos lawsuits, the shipbuilding companies have generally not been held liable. A large part of the reason is that leading asbestos manufacturers are now known to have been chief architects of the conspiracy to suppress health information regarding asbestos exposure. The defendants in these cases are the asbestos manufacturers or less often, the vendors.