Shipyards were once one of America’s largest employers. Shipyard workers numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and they labored to assemble marine vessels of every size and configuration.
Steam-powered ships first relied on wood and coal as their heat energy source to create steam for driving propulsion systems.
That changed in the 1930s when oil became commonly used. These new diesel-powered vessels presented a similar challenge as older fossil-fueled ships did. That was insulating them against heat and noise as well as making them as fire-resistant as possible.
Right about that time, asbestos began a seven-decade run in the shipyard business.
Asbestos seemed the perfect shipbuilding material. It was exceptionally resistant to fire, worked as a superior product for thermal control and acted as an excellent sound deadener.
Unfortunately, tens of thousands of American shipyard workers suffered asbestos exposure and are at high risk of developing deadly diseases like mesothelioma as a result.