Frigate is a name used for numerous types of ships used in the Navy. Frigates came in various sizes and had different roles during the nation’s major wars. However, as with every other vessel built prior to the late 1970s, frigates were constructed with many asbestos-containing products, which led to a myriad of veterans developing toxic illnesses, and others a heightened risk of developing life-threatening diseases.
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According to the U.S. Navy, frigates help to fulfill two important missions for the military: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Protection of Shipping (POS). The anti-submarine warfare frigates helped to protect the military from maritime enemies. The frigates also protected against merchant convoys.
Frigates were originally designed due to the affordability to make them, but the lower costs in constructing them also meant they didn’t have the capabilities of many of the newer modern warships.
Frigates were first created in 1794 when the Navy constructed six sailing frigates. The name sailing frigates was changed to simply frigate during World War II.
In the following years, many frigates of various sizes were built, redesigned, and modified. Although larger than corvette ships, frigates are considered small vessels. They were created initially to make up for what the corvette vessels lacked, such as unfit hulls, limited speed, inadequate range, and shortness of maneuvering effectively.
1975 Frigate Reclassification
The frigate classified stopped in June, 1975. Although most of the gun frigates had already been removed, the DLG class of frigates were redesigned as cruisers. The USS Farragut class of frigates were made into destroyer vessels.
All of the nuclear-powered frigates turned into nuclear-powered cruisers. Cruisers were also reclassified during this time, as the Soviet Union military defined the term “cruiser” different than the U.S. military.
Consequently, the difference in terms caused political tension, which led to the U.S. military redefining the cruiser. Cruisers became decommissioned, with the last one being the gun cruiser, which was decommissioned in 1975.
Frigates and Asbestos Use
As mentioned earlier, numerous asbestos-containing products were used to construct frigate prior to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strict rules on its use, enforced in 1979. According to the military, over 250 asbestos-containing were sent to shipyards and used in the construction and repair of military vessels.
Many of the U.S. military purchase receipts, documentation, and repair orders indicate that many asbestos-containing products were used to construct and repair frigates. Consequently, veterans and anyone else who helped built frigates, repair frigate parts, or worked aboard frigates are at a heightened risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.
Workers at risk of developing toxic asbestos illnesses include shipyard workers, repair and maintenance workers, crew members, painters, electricians, insulation installers, construction workers, and any other worker who worked around or aboard frigates prior to the late 1970s. Crew members in particular are at a heightened risk as many of them spent long hours inside cramped areas on frigates, with minimum ventilation.
Loved ones of veterans are also at risk of developing life-threatening. If your loved one came home in work clothes, there is a chance asbestos fibers were on clothing, hair and skin, which could have transferred into the family home. All former frigate workers and their families are encouraged to seek routine medical assistance.
Additional Assistance and Resources for Veterans
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