Although these vessels were never intended for combat use, auxiliary ships’ support, defense, and numerous other roles played an important role in the military. Yet, as important as these vessels are, many veterans now face life-threatening diseases after working on and aboard auxiliary ships made with asbestos-containing products.
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About Auxiliary Ships
Auxiliary ships have always been an important part of the Navy. Without auxiliary ships, the Navy’s foremost ships aren’t as powerful. Auxiliary ships vary greatly in size from small, medium, to large, and serve functions such as replenishing supplies and food to other vessels, transporting fuel, transporting vessels and sailors, and much more. Some auxiliary ships tow damaged vessels to safety, while others served as defense vessels.
Some of the most common types of auxiliary ships developed by Navy include auxiliary:
- Salvage ships
- Crane ships
- Command ships
- Storage ships
- Surveying ships
- Hospital ships
- Fleet ocean tugs
- Net cargo ships
- Light cargo ships
- Fast combat support ships
- Evacuation transports
- Helicopter aircraft repair ships
Although there was once numerous different types of auxiliary ships in use, the Navy doesn’t currently have many of them active. Along with 16 Barracks ships, 14 dry cargo ships, and 13 Unclassified Ships, the only active auxiliary ships today include the:
- USS Emory S Land
- USS Mercer
- USS Frank Cable
- USS Neodesha
- USS Pueblo
Asbestos Use in Auxiliary Ships
As with every other vessel constructed by the military prior to the 1970s, auxiliary ships were built with asbestos-containing products. The military used the toxic mineral for its affordability, ease of use, and resistance to heat and fire. Over 250 asbestos-containing products were once used to build vessels.
Asbestos was used in a variety of products and equipment on auxiliary ships, including:
- Ship decks
According to archived military documents and memos, asbestos-containing products was used on auxiliary ships from 1944 until 1966. Johns Manville, an asbestos manufacturing company that’s faced numerous mesothelioma lawsuits, was one of the main suppliers of asbestos to the military.
Other asbestos manufacturers that contributed to asbestos on auxiliary ships include Eagle Picher and Union Asbestos and Rubber Company.
U.S Navy veterans who constructed, repaired, or worked aboard auxiliary ships are at the highest risk of developing toxic illness caused by asbestos exposure, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Since the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can take up to 50 years to surface, it’s important to undergo regular medical checkups and as soon as possible.
Spouses and children of military veterans are also at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. The majority of veterans who worked on vessels prior to the late 1970s didn’t wear protective gear or clothing. Most were not even informed of the dangers of asbestos even though it was well-known by most manufacturers just how dangerous asbestos fibers are.
In turn, veterans would return home with asbestos fibers on their clothing, hair, and skin, which transferred into the family home.
Family members of veterans should also maintain regular checkups. If you’re a loved one of a veteran who worked on asbestos-containing auxiliary ships or any other vessels, be certain to let your doctor know that you may have been exposed to asbestos.
Additional Help and Information
Remember to fill out our form to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on top asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. Keep in mind that if you have mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for considerable compensation. For additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.