Newport News Shipyard held a status as one of the largest shipbuilding sites in the United States. Similar to so many other shipbuilding yards of its era, Newport News used hundreds of asbestos-containing products. The handling of these products exposed unknowing workers to asbestos, leading to numerous cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
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Newport News Shipyard History
Newport News Shipyard started off as the Chesapeake Dry Dock & Construction Company in 1886, in Newport News, Virginia, along the James River. Years later its named changed to Newport News Shipyard as it began building both naval and commercial vessels.
Collis P. Huntington, an industrialist, built the shipyard, and by 1891, Newport News Shipbuilding built its first vessel. Within the next six years, the shipyard built several other vessels, including the USS Nashville, USS Wilmington, and USS Helena.
In 1927, Newport News Shipyard built the GRT SS California, one of the largest merchant ships at the time to be built in the United States. Several other vessels followed, including the Virginia, Pennsylvania, President Coolidge, and SS America.
During World War II, the shipyard was given a $22 million investment by the United States Navy. The shipyard went on to build numerous aircraft carriers, cruisers, battleships, and more. By the end of the war, the shipyard built over 240 ships and was awarded an “E” for excellence pennant by the U.S. Navy.
In 1960, Newport News built the Robert E. Lee, the shipyard’s first nuclear submarine. In 1961 the USS Enterprise was launched, followed by the USS Nimitz in 1975. During the 1970s, Newport News Shipyard also launched two of the biggest tankers ever built and several liquefied natural gas carriers.
In 2008, Newport News Shipyard was combined into the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. In 2011, the shipyard was combined with Ingalls Shipyard to create the Huntington Ingalls Industries, owned by Northrop Grumman.
Today, Newport News Shipyard is the largest industrial employer in the state of Virginia. It concentrates on building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the Navy.
Newport News Shipyard and Asbestos
As with most every other shipyard in the past in the United States, Newport News Shipyard relied on asbestos for its resistance to heat and fire, its affordability. and its ease of use. In fact, Newport News Shipyard and many other businesses faced numerous asbestos-related lawsuits from former yard employees who developed life-threatening illnesses after prolonged exposure.
One such worker was Rubert “Bert” Minton, a former shipfitter who was exposed to asbestos while working on 17 Exxon oil tankers at the direction of his employer, Newport News Shipyard. A jury awarded Minton $17.5 million against Exxon, but it was later, unfortunately, tossed out.
During World War II, more than 30,000 people worked at Newport News Shipyard, and that majority of them were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. Other people, such as children and spouses, were exposed to asbestos via second-hand as shipyard employees returned home in asbestos-filled work clothing.
Decades after working at the shipyard, many employees, along with their family members, developed malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. Some still live with the life-threatening illnesses today, while others have sadly passed away.
Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
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. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys.