Asbestos Use on Patrol Boats

Summary

United States Navy ships built before 1980 contain large quantities of asbestos, putting the numerous Navy and civilian personnel who worked on them at an increased risk for serious diseases. Patrol Boats are among those ships built using large quantities of asbestos.

About US Navy Patrol Boats

United States Navy Patrol Boats were constructed to carry men and supplies along coastlines and river-ways. Carrying out operations in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the patrol boats were vital in strategic advantages for the United States. Unlike large aircraft carriers, patrol boats were smaller vessels known for their agility and quickness.

Patrol boats were not outfitted to contain sizeable amounts of heavy armor and artillery. These vessels were constructed to carry out stealth missions to infiltrate enemy territories.

Along with carrying out various military operations, patrol boats were made to house thousands of Navy personnel. Patrol boats were built with different designs and given specific designations. They are a crucial last line of defense credited with numerous missions such as destroying German submarines in WWII and escorting convoy during the times of the Vietnam War.

Types of patrol craft include:

  • PC Patrol Craft Coastal
  • PC Submarine Chaser (173′)
  • PCE Patrol Craft Escort
  • PCER Patrol Craft Rescue Escort
  • PCH Submarine Chaser (Hydrofoil)
  • PCS Patrol Craft Sweeper
  • PE Eagle Class Patrol Vessel
  • PF Patrol Frigate
  • PG Gunboat
  • PGH Gunboat (Hydrofoil)
  • PGM Motor Gunboat
  • PHM Patrol Combatant-Missile (Hydrofoil)
  • PR River Gunboat
  • PT Motor Torpedo Boat
  • PTC Motor Boat Submarine Chasers
  • PY Patrol Yacht
  • PY Coastal Patrol Yacht
  • SC Submarine Chaser (110′)

The most commonly known classes of Navy patrol boats are the Eagle Class and Cyclone Class. The Eagle Class were smaller ships made of steel with the ability to go further offshore than other vessels.

MJN Brief

Eagle Class patrol boats were manufactured by Henry Ford who had both the capability and resources to build them. They became available towards the end of WWI. Most boats with the Navy served during WWII, while some went to other departments, like the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cyclone Class was introduced in the early 1990s to provide interdiction surveillance, coastal patrol and support for special operations in shallow water areas. A majority of the fleet provided the Navy with a quick, dependable platform and could respond to shallow water emergencies.

A few of the boats were on loan to the U.S. Coast Guard where they assisted in search and rescue missions as well as investigating foreign freighters.

Asbestos Use in Navy Patrol Boats

With the start of WWII, the United States significantly increased their development of Navy ships. There was an urgency for the production of Navy patrol boats in large quantities.

Most vessels built before 1980 contain significant amounts of asbestos.

Asbestos was appealing not just for its affordability, but also its flexible strength and resistance to high temperatures and damage caused by chemicals. Other properties that made asbestos such an appealing product were its uses as an insulator and for fireproofing building materials used on the boats.

The United States Navy has taken the initiative to remove asbestos from their ships. Despite their efforts, the process of removing asbestos products has its challenges. As asbestos ages, it becomes brittle and poses a threat to one’s health if the appropriate steps are not followed to remove it properly. Despite the Navy’s best attempts to remove the toxic product, much of it remains on their boats today.

Types of Asbestos Products Used in Patrol Boats

Compared to other vessels, patrol boats were smaller in size, but still contained significant amounts of asbestos. Asbestos was a typical product used in the construction of patrol boats until the mid-1970s. They used more than 300 asbestos-containing materials in their development. Areas of high contamination were sleeping quarters, common areas, mess halls, navigation rooms, engine rooms and boiler rooms.

A look into records containing pertinent information relating to the construction of Naval vessels validates the use of asbestos-containing materials in equipment. Other possible materials of contamination are:

  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Pipe Insulation
  • Grinders
  • Gaskets
  • Paneling
  • Packing Materials
  • Tubes
  • Adhesives
  • Cables
  • Block Insulation
  • Capacitors
  • Bedding Compounds
  • Thermal Materials

High Asbestos-Risk Occupations on Patrol Boats

Patrol boats had a unique advantage over other ships because their workers had more opportunities to work in open air areas. Some of the highest amounts of asbestos were areas that contained pipes and wires covered with insulation, such as the pump, fire and engine rooms.

Patrol boat occupations most at risk are:

  • Electricians
  • Shipfitters
  • Enginemen
  • Broiler Tenders
  • Machinist Mates
  • Pipefitters

Help for Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma

Those who have served on U.S. Navy patrol boats have a high risk of contracting serious diseases, like mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that arises in the layer of tissue surrounding the internal organs. Most cases of mesothelioma occur in the lining surrounding the lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. There are treatments available, but most patients with the disease are not curable.

Although veterans are not able to file lawsuits against the United States government, they may be eligible to claim VA disability benefits and treatments. If you are a Navy veteran who has contracted mesothelioma, you eligible to make a compensation claim through the VA. In addition to VA compensation, veterans can also file lawsuits against companies that provided the asbestos-containing products.

For assistance filing your VA claim, contact our VA-Accredited Claims Representatives today.

View Author and Sources
Sources
  1. The National Association of Destroyer Veterans, "Hull Designations for Patrol Craft" Retrieved from http://www.destroyers.org/Hulls/Patrol_craft.htm Accessed on 18 April 2018
  2. Mayo Clinic, "Mesothelioma" Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20375022 Accessed on 18 April 2018
  3. U.S. Asbestos Expedited Claims Processing, "Ships and Asbestos" Retrieved from: https://www.usaep.org/veterans/navy/ships-asbestos/ Accessed on 18 April 2018
  4. EagleSpeak "Sunday Ship History: The Eagle Ships" Retrieved from: http://www.eaglespeak.us/2009/07/sunday-ship-history-eagle-ships.html Accessed on 18 April 2018

Last modified: May 24, 2018