Amphibious Warships are U.S. Navy ships designed to provide support to the U.S. Marines and ground forces. Most amphibious warships constructed prior to the late 1970s were built with asbestos-containing products, similar to most other vessels constructed during the same time period. Anyone who worked aboard or around these vessels are a heightened risk of developing toxic illnesses caused by asbestos exposure.
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About Amphibious Warships
Amphibious Warships were created in the late 1800s, around the time of the Battle of Pisagua. The military needed an effective way to carry its troops and cargo during amphibious tasks and operations. In turn, the first amphibious warship was created by the Chilean government.
When World War I started, the U.S. military started experimenting with constructing amphibious warships. By 1933, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy set up the Fleet Marine Force (FMF), a special forces operation that designed and constructed amphibious warships and Naval fleets.
Shortly after, the FMF began constructing vessels known as “Higgins Boats,” which were large vessels with extra-wide ramps that could carry over 30 troops, a vehicle, and cargo.
By World War II, the military became interested in creating better vessels that could hold more ships and cargo. At the beginning of the war, the military had no amphibious assault ships at all, and looked to the British military for ideas.
The Royal Navy (British) began creating numerous amphibious warships, such as the LCT Mark 1, LCT Mark 2, and the LCT Mark 3. Each vessel created could hold additional troops and cargo. The LCT Mark 4 was created shortly after, but was constructed a bit smaller than the previous versions in order to help cross channel operations easier.
The U.S. military, going by the British military’s vessel designs, created the LCT Mark 5, which was capable of holding 150 tons of cargo and hundreds of troops. Numerous amphibious warships designs followed, leading to many new amphibious warship including:
- General purpose assault ships
- Multi-purpose assault ships
- Force Flagships
- Command ships
- Attack transports
- High-speed transports
- Cargo Ships
Amphibious Warships and Asbestos Use
According military documents and memos, over 250 different types of asbestos-containing products were used when making military vessels. Many of these products were also used when constructing and repairing amphibious warships. Asbestos-containing products on amphibious were found in:
- Packing materials
- Valves, and more
Veterans in particular are at the highest risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as malignant mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer. Many veterans who helped build and/or repair amphibious warships didn’t wear the proper gear to help protect them from asbestos fibers, nor were they told the risks involved in being around asbestos. Daily, workers would breathe in tiny, odorless asbestos fibers while working.
If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s important to tell your doctor right away. If you have an asbestos-related illness, and early diagnosis will make a huge impact on your survival rate.