About U.S. Navy Ships
The United States Navy maintains one of the world’s largest seafaring military forces. The U.S. Navy currently has over 325,000 active-service personnel supported by 107,000 naval reservists. Multiple navy bases are strategically placed across American coasts, and the Navy continuously operates ships in waters around the world. That includes a fleet of carriers with 3,700 various aircraft and a stealthy force of nuclear submarines.
The U.S. Navy’s ship complement is far less today than in its peak period. At the end of World War II, the American navy recorded an inventory of over 6,700 ships in all sizes. Most were decommissioned post-war and either converted to merchant marine vessels or sold as scrap. Navy shipbuilding expanded seventeen-fold from 1939 to 1945. The American war contribution in Atlantic and Pacific theaters demanded that military and civilian supply ships be constructed at a frantic rate.
Asbestos Use in Navy Ships
Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) were in every United States Navy ship built from the 1930s to the 1970s. There were no exceptions. Fire was a significant concern in ships loaded with fuel that were highly heated and vulnerable to attack. Asbestos materials wouldn’t burn under any conditions.
Asbestos was thermally inert and made perfect insulation for steam pipes and fuel lines. ACM was non-conductive, so it coated miles of electrical cables throughout the ships. It didn’t corrode, was lightweight and added strength to other products. Asbestos was also economical, readily available and stable to work with.
These are some of the over 300 ACM products and places used in building Navy ships:
- Boilers, fireboxes, and liners
- Pumps, valves, and hydraulics
- Gaskets, packings, sealants, and adhesives
- Spray-on, block, batt and loose-fill insulation
- Pipe and duct wrappings
- Electrical wire coatings
- Deck and floor tiles
- Paint and wallboard
- Soundproofing materials
- Capacitors, meters, dielectric paper and relays
- Instruments and instrument paneling
- Cement powder and mortar mix