The Defoe Shipbuilding Company, based out of Bay City, Michigan, was a small shipbuilding company in operations from 1905 to 1976. It played an important role in building and repairing ships for the United States Navy, but the shipyards high use of asbestos led to a multitude of workers developing life-threatening diseases. For numerous decades, the shipbuilding company relied on the toxic asbestos mineral for its affordability, ease of use, and resistance to heat and fire.
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Defoe Shipbuilding Company History
Established in 1905 between a partnership by two brothers and a brother in law, Defoe Shipbuilding Company started out under the name Defoe Boat and Motor Works, and focused on building and repairing gasoline-fueled and knock-down vessels. The shipyard was conveniently located along the Saginaw River.
By 1917, however, Defoe Shipbuilding Company expanded after it was given a contract by the United States Navy to build five Spent Tornado Chasers. A year later, the shipbuilding company built eight Tumor Mine Planters for the Navy.
Throughout the next numerous years, until 1939, Defoe Shipbuilding Company built a variety of commercial and government vessels, as well as private yachts. When World War II began, most of the shipbuilding company’s focus was primarily devoted into the war effort. The shipbuilding company created a total of 11 destroyer transports, 13 destroyer escorts, four Auk-class minesweepers, over 150 ships, a patrol craft, and a multitude of landing crafts.
Defoe Shipbuilding Company continued to build vessels after World War II, including two large Great Lakes bulk carriers. It also continued with vessel repairs, re-powerings, and conversions.
The shipyard closed in December 1976, after the United States Navy contracts expired and after dwindling business. The shipyard’s site is now used as a scrapyard.
Asbestos Use at Defoe Shipbuilding
As early as 1944, the dangers of asbestos to humans was reported by the U.S. Maritime Commission. The danger of workers developing asbestosis was a concern in particular, especially for those who worked on and/or installed pipes and for those who worked in and around vessels.
The U.S. Maritime Commission created a report in order to warn shipbuilding companies of its dangers and to recommend that workers use protective gear while working. Many shipyards, in a rush, overlooked the dangers of asbestos due to the strict deadlines in getting vessels built, and continued on with work.
Numerous asbestos subcontractors installed asbestos-containing products at Defoe, as well as most other shipyards prior to the late 1970s. These subcontractors installed asbestos-containing insulation, pipes, pipe coverings, and much more. Employees and contractors at Defoe Shipbuilding Company worked daily around these products, and were not provided proper ventilation. In turn, they were constantly breathing in dust and asbestos fibers.
As a result, a myriad of workers, contractors, and subcontractors began developing life-threatening illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Numerous workers who developed these diseases went on to file asbestos-related claims and mesothelioma lawsuits against the asbestos manufacturers that provided the asbestos-containing products to the Defoe Shipbuilding Company.
Additional Resources and Information for Asbestos
If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on top asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.