Voyage Repair of Port Angeles, Washington is one of eight marine repair and construction facilities owned and operated by Portland-based Cascade General, which in turn is part of Vigor Industrial LLC, a massive holding company which controls several West Coast shipyard operations.
Voyage Repair has the unique advantage of a highly strategic location. Port Angeles is situated on the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, across from the city of Victoria. This waterway is the primary entrance to Puget Sound and the Inside Passage that runs from Vancouver BC to Alaska. Port Angeles is the first inbound anchorage available to ships arriving in the Northwest from Asia, and thus is accessible from major shipping lanes.
Voyage Repair Port Angeles has two terminals with a 44 foot-deep repair berth. This provides access to trucks, containers and mobile cranes with capacities of up to 100 tons. Because of its location, Voyage Repair Port Angeles is able to provide a full range of “comp site,” or in-water marine services, including emergency repairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and mobile “in transit” crews for priority jobs as well.
Of the tens of thousands of ships constructed between the 1930s and the 1970s, there are a fair number still in operation. Since the hidden truth about asbestos and its related diseases, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, from the public was exposed in the 1970s, the U.S. shipping industry has worked to ensure that asbestos aboard U.S. registered ships has been “encapsulated” – that is, contained so that it does not become “friable,” or turn into harmful dust.
The danger is that not all nations have such programs or requirements in place. For example, older ships of Greek registry frequently contain friable asbestos in the engine room. Likewise, ships of Liberian registry constructed prior to 1980 are likely to have friable asbestos on board.
Safety standards for asbestos workers in U.S. marine industries have been in place since 1943; however these have been enforced only since the late 1970s. Any serious exposure in the course of shipyard employment would most likely have taken place prior to that time.
Building an Asbestos Case
The challenges in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit lie in determining liability; rarely is this as simple as suing an employer. In many cases, the employer may not have been aware of the hazard; it would need to be proven that there was knowledge of the hazard and that the employer demonstrated willful negligence.
Generally, the defendant will be the manufacturer of the asbestos product. Although asbestos litigation poses serious challenges, plaintiffs have two elements in their favor: (A) Our Mesothelioma lawyers have been building and maintaining massive databases on all aspects of the asbestos industry, including business records, shipping registries, case law, old photographs, and much more. (B) Malignant mesothelioma has only one known, proven cause, which is asbestos exposure. In addition, asbestos litigation has “matured” in legal terms, meaning that there is a solid, thirty-year history of precedent upon which lawyers can draw. Asbestos suits are found in favor of the plaintiff about 75% of the time.