Asbestos Use in U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers
U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have been in use for about 100 years. U.S. carriers allow the military to project their airpower around the world without the need for a local base in what could be foreign or hostile territory.
From the 1930s to the early 1980s, U.S. Navy aircraft carriers relied heavily on asbestos-containing products. In those times, asbestos was used as a fire-resistant material, which was important on ships carrying dozens of aircraft.
Dozens of aircraft carriers used asbestos products, including the following designations:
- CVA: Attack aircraft carriers
- CVAN: Nuclear-powered attack aircraft carriers
- CVB: Large aircraft carriers
- CVL: Small aircraft carriers
- CVN: Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers
- CVT: Training aircraft carriers
- CVS: Anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carriers
World War II saw military use of asbestos increase dramatically. Entire U.S. Navy aircraft carrier fleets were built with asbestos during this time.
Asbestos exposure can lead to several lung cancers and disorders, including mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers can cause damage to the linings of the lungs, abdomen, testicles, and heart, causing cells to mutate and become cancerous over time.
Fortunately, U.S. Navy veterans who have been exposed to asbestos on aircraft carriers and later developed mesothelioma can take actions.
For example, they can apply for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and receive financial compensation and medical treatment from the federal government.
Veterans also may be able to receive more financial compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit or an asbestos trust fund claim.
Why Was Asbestos Used on U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers?
Asbestos was used on aircraft because of the material’s favorable chemical properties.
- A good insulator
In particular, the U.S. Navy wanted to reduce the amount of serious fires on its aircraft carriers and used asbestos insulation as a relatively inexpensive way to do so.
Asbestos-containing products could be found on flight decks and all of the aircraft that made up Navy carrier air wings, including planes and helicopters.
Today, asbestos is no longer used on any U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. The dangers are fully understood by both scientists and military decisionmakers.
Yet anyone exposed to asbestos before the risks were well-known could be at risk today since mesothelioma and related diseases take 20-50 years to develop.