Asbestos in Ships

From the 1920s through the 1980s, asbestos was widely used in ships and shipyards across the United States. More than 20 major yards employed millions of people to make ships made from two primary components – steel and asbestos. Everyone from those who built the ships to those who sailed on them are at risk for developing mesothelioma.

Ships and shipyards had notoriously deplorable working conditions due to poor ventilation and asbestos exposure. It is a fact that companies intentionally hid the dangers of asbestos to ensure they would continue making profits. Workers, whether military or civilian, at or near shipyards from World War II to modern day are at risk for developing mesothelioma cancer.

Many asbestos companies and related manufacturers have been compelled to create asbestos trusts to give asbestos victims financial protections that can be used to pay for treatment and living expenses.

Exposure Locations

In ships and shipyards, the following locations are consider high risk for asbestos exposure.

At Land
  • Enclosed buildings
  • Construction sites
  • Ship-building sites
  • Repair shops
At Sea
  • Engine rooms
  • Renovation areas
  • Below deck areas
  • Demolition areas
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Shipyard Occupations

  • Paint Blaster – Applies paint, powder coatings and other coverings for protective and decorative purposes in and out of ships and shipyards.
  • Plastic Fabricator – Builds, repairs and modifies shipboard plastic components. Construction work includes milling rubber compounds, gaskets and valves.
  • Industrial Equipment Mechanic – Operates, repairs, overhauls and maintains stationary equipment dockside and afloat. This includes pumps, floodgates, motors and winches.
  • Electrician – Installs and repairs motor control circuits, generators, portable electrical equipment, connectors and electrical services both dockside and aboard the ship.
  • Rigger – Handles heavy equipment including cranes, hoists, shackles and wire pennants in and around dry dock and in buildings.
  • Machinist – Manufactures parts needed for machines that include lathes, boring machines, drilling machines and milling machines. Work includes inspecting, disassembling, reassembling and testing components.
  • Mechanic – Installs, repairs, removes, inspects and tests the ship’s main propulsion mechanism and other industrial plant equipment for proper working condition.
  • Pipefitter – Repairs, installs, removes dockside to shipyard piping and major propulsion systems and some weapons systems.
  • Insulator – Applies insulation materials on steam turbines, hulls, refrigeration plants, ventilation ducts and shipboard piping systems for noise reduction and heat conduction.
  • Metals Inspector – Performs ship- and land-based testing to ensure components are working properly and replaced as needed.
  • Sheet Metal Mechanic – Manufactures, installs and repairs ventilation systems, furniture, doors and bulkheads.
  • Shipfitter – Manufactures, installs, removes and repairs structural assemblies on submarines and ships.
  • Welder – Cuts and joins a variety of industrial and marine metals using gas or electric cutting procedures and tools.
  • Shipyard Laborer – Provides a variety of basic maintenance services from materials delivery to work set up. Assists in ship docking and undocking and other shipyard trades.
  • Plumbers – Repairs shipboard plumbing pipes and systems. Maintains water, sewage and drainage systems.

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Product Identification

Our skilled and knowledgeable Patient Advocates have years of experience helping asbestos victims determine where, when and how shipyard asbestos exposure occurred. Through their painstaking research, we have collected detailed information about asbestos mines, manufacturers, producers and job sites that are known for asbestos exposure nationwide. This information translates to a deeper understanding of the use of asbestos at shipyards and helps us better protect your interests.

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