The first navy cruisers were sailing warships designed for fast and agile maneuvering, being able to sustain for long voyages. Sail evolved to steam and diesel power. Now, modern navy cruisers are nuclear powered. Regardless of their energy source, all cruisers built before the 1980s used plenty of asbestos.
Cruisers replaced the battleship after World War II. Now, cruisers are the largest American warships next to aircraft carriers. Battleships were unable to properly defend against enemy air attacks. Cruisers, however, were easily modified for effective anti-aircraft weaponry in addition to bombarding ship and shore positions like battleships could.
Today’s sophisticated guided missile cruisers are state-of-the-art weapons that work in conjunction with an entire battle fleet. Cruiser roles include air, surface, subsurface and long-range land striking capability with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
U.S. Navy cruiser variations include:
- Armored Cruisers
- Aircraft Cruisers
- Auxiliary Cruisers
- Battle Cruisers
- Coast Guard Cruisers
- Command Cruisers
- Guided Missile Cruisers
- Heavy Cruisers
- Hunter-Killer Cruisers
- Light Cruisers
- Nuclear Cruisers
There were hundreds of cruiser-variation warships built from the 1920s until the 1980s. Ever one of these military vessels used asbestos in their construction. Once the health hazards became widely known, the Navy stopped using asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in new vessels. They also undertook a massive abatement program where asbestos products were removed from the ships or encapsulated to ensure airborne particles were prevented.
During that six-decade span when ACM was prominently used in cruiser building, navy designers, planners, and shipbuilders thought they had the miracle material in asbestos. Ships are hot and flammable environments that needed volumes of insulation and fire protection. Asbestos wouldn’t burn under any conditions. It was thermally neutral, non-corrosive, anti-conductive and lightweight. Asbestos was also readily available and cost-effective.
The huge problem with asbestos is when particles dislodge from the parent material and go airborne. This happened when ACM products dried out and became friable. Airborne asbestos contamination also happened when workers cut, fit and refit asbestos products. That occurred onboard cruisers that had poor ventilation as well as in shipyards when being built or maintained.
United States Navy cruisers were built with over 300 different ACM products. These shipbuilding components were utilized across the Navy as well in all cruisers manufactured before the 1980s. Every ACM products presented health risks to those vets working with or around airborne asbestos fibers.
The most common Navy vessel ACM products were:
- Ammunition hold protective panels
- Boiler room protection like blankets and fire shields
- Cables and ropes
- Deck tiles and ceiling panels
- Electrical cable coatings and panel liners
- Firefighting suits
- Insulation materials including spray-on, loose-fill, rigid, block and wrapping
- Paint, adhesives, and caulking
- Pipe and fuel line covers
- Valves, packings, gaskets, and seals
- Welding rods and protective equipment
Every Navy veteran deployed on a cruiser built with, or containing, ACM is at risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Their risk degree depends on the quantity of airborne asbestos particles, the specific asbestos type and the duration of exposure time.
These were Navy occupations having the highest asbestos exposure risk:
- Electricians, plumbers, and pipe-fitters
- Engine room and boiler tenders
- Gunners and munitions specialists
- Machinists, mechanics, and millwrights
- Metal fabricators and welders
- Painters and plasterers
- Refitters and demolition workers
- Tile setters and mortar mixers
Help for Navy Veterans with Mesothelioma
U.S. Navy veterans who served onboard cruisers containing asbestos materials have a high risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Navy veterans who worked in shipyards where cruisers were manufactured, maintained and refitted also had a high risk of airborne asbestos fiber exposure. Mesothelioma has a long latency period of up to 50 years after exposure before disease symptoms show. It’s difficult for doctors to treat late-stage mesothelioma, but veterans can get the best treatment possible with financial compensation and VA health care benefits.
Mesothelioma lawyers have been helping U.S. Navy veterans seek compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases for nearly four decades. Specialized attorneys work across America to ensure Navy veterans have help in settlement negotiations and trust funds access. For assistance with VA claims, contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today.