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Asbestos on Cruisers

Expert Fact Checked

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Jennifer Lucarelli Lawyer and Legal Advisor

U.S. Navy cruisers once used asbestos materials on board. The Navy built these large warships with asbestos up to the 1980s. In fact, at least 140 cruisers likely had some asbestos products. U.S. Navy veterans exposed to the harmful mineral may develop asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

01. Cruisers’ History

History of Cruisers

Cruisers have played an important role in the U.S. Navy for many years. These ships provide air defense, bombard the shore and perform ship-to-ship battles. These intense operations subjected the ships to extreme temperatures and fire hazards. This may explain why cruisers were constructed with asbestos products until the 1970s. The dangerous mineral is known for its heat and fire-resistant properties.

The first cruisers of the U.S. Navy were iron-hulled warships powered by steam. Later versions of the U.S. Navy vessel were armored with steel and equipped with large guns. Modern cruisers are typically smaller than battleships and larger than destroyers. They are designed for combat and high speeds. Cruisers may sail in a fleet with aircraft carriers and destroyers.

Cruisers’ History at a Glance

  • Other Names/Classes:
    • Anti-aircraft light cruiser (CLAA)
    • Armored cruiser (CA)
    • Command cruiser (CC)
    • Command light cruiser (CLC)
    • Cruiser – hunter killer (CLK)
    • Guided missile cruiser (CG)
    • Guided missile cruiser, nuclear powered (CGN)
    • Guided missile light cruiser, nuclear powered (CLGN)
    • Guided missile heavy cruiser (CAG)
    • Guided missile light cruiser (CLG)
    • Heavy cruiser (CA)
    • Large command ship (CBC)
    • Large cruiser (CB)
    • Light cruiser (CL)
  • Years of Operation: 1880s – Present
  • Wartime Operations: World War I (WWI), World War II (WWII), the Korean War, the Vietnam War
  • Size of Crew: Approximately 330 to 1,100
  • Size of Ship: About 600 feet long, displacing 7,000 – 10,000 tons
  • Noteworthy Ships: USS Baltimore, USS Boston, USS New Orleans, USS San Francisco

The term cruiser has been used for combat ships for hundreds of years. In the 1880s, the cruiser designation was given to a specific type of U.S. warship. The USS Atlanta, USS Boston and the USS Chicago are considered the first cruisers in the modern Navy.

Notable Cruisers

Shipyards produced many U.S. Navy cruisers during the height of asbestos use. Two notable cruisers include the USS Bremerton and the USS Worden. These ships are two of the estimated 140 cruisers that contained asbestos.

Asbestos was useful for shipbuilding because of its durability and fire resistance. Because asbestos was widely used in the Navy, ships may have exposed many service members.

USS Bremerton (CA-130)

The USS Bremerton was a heavy cruiser commissioned at the end of World War II. Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, the USS Bremerton launched for service in 1944. The cruiser sailed in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was also later used in the Korean War.

Quick Ship Facts
  • Shipyard: New York Shipbuilding Corps
  • Year Built: 1944
  • Years in Service: 1945 – 1960

Steam turbines powered the USS Bremerton, and it used a lot of insulated materials. This insulation contained asbestos to help protect against the high temperatures.

In a 1995 case, a shipyard worker testified about asbestos on the USS Bremerton. He stated the ship contained Kaylo asbestos block insulation made by Owens-Illinois Inc. The block insulation was used in the ship’s boiler and on its pipes.

In 1960, the Navy decommissioned the ship. The Navy sent the Bremerton to Long Beach Shipyard. The workers cut, sawed and removed thermal insulation from the ship’s pipes. This work may have exposed shipyard workers and veterans to asbestos.

USS Worden (CG-18)

The USS Worden was a guided missile cruiser. The Navy first commissioned the Worden as a destroyer but reclassified it as a cruiser in 1975. The Worden took part in missions during the Vietnam War, including some in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Quick Ship Facts
  • Shipyard: Bath Iron Works
  • Year Built: 1960
  • Years in Service: 1962 – 1993

Bath Iron Works built the Worden during the peak years of asbestos use. This shipyard received products from several asbestos companies. Many U.S. Navy vessels used asbestos-containing materials in boiler rooms and engine rooms.

Crew members testified there were thousands of feet of insulated pipes in the ship. Removing or repairing the insulation could result in airborne asbestos fibers. This put anyone onboard the ship at risk of exposure and asbestos-related illnesses.

02. List of Cruisers

Complete List of Cruisers

Many 20th-century ships, including Navy cruisers, had asbestos-containing products. This meant many shipbuilders and crew members experienced asbestos exposure.

The Navy has decommissioned most of the cruisers built with asbestos. But Navy veterans and crew members who worked on these ships may still develop mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.

Name Hull Class Commissioned Fate
USS Alaska CB-1 Alaska 6/17/1944 Scrapped
USS Albany CA-123 6/15/1946 Scrapped, 1990
USS Amsterdam CL-101 1/8/1945 Scrapped
USS Amsterdam CL-59 Independence 1/14/1943 Sunk, 1951
USS Arkansas CGN-41 Virginia 10/18/1980 Ship Recycling, 1999
USS Astoria CA-34 4/28/1934 Sunk, 1942
USS Astoria CL-90 5/17/1944 Sold for Scrap, 1971
USS Atlanta CL-104 12/3/1944 Sunk as Target, 1970
USS Atlanta CLAA-51 12/24/1941 Sunk, 1942
USS Augusta CL/CA-31 Northampton 1/30/1931 Scrapped, 1960
USS Bainbridge CGN-25 Leahy 10/6/1962 Recycled, 1999
USS Baltimore CA-68 4/15/1943 Scrapped, 1972
USS Belknap CG-26 Belknap 11/7/1964 Sunk as Target, 1998
USS Biddle CG-34 Belknap 1/21/1967 Scrapped
USS Biloxi CL-80 Cleveland 8/31/1943 Scrapped, 1962
USS Birmingham CL-62 Cleveland 1/29/1943 Scrapped, 1959
USS Boise CL-47 8/12/1938 Scrapped, 1978
USS Boston CAG-1 6/30/1943 Scrapped, 1975
USS Bremerton CA-130 Baltimore 4/29/1945 Scrapped, 1974
USS Brooklyn CL-40 9/30/1937 Sold to Chile, 1951
USS Buffalo CL-99 Independence 11/17/1943 Sold for Scrap, 1961
USS Bunker Hill CG-52 Ticonderoga 9/20/1986 Active
USS California CGN-36 California 2/16/1974 Recycling, 2000
USS Canberra CA-70 Baltimore 10/14/1943 Sold for Scrap, 1980
USS Chester CA-27 Northampton 6/24/1930 Sold for Scrap, 1959
USS Chicago CA-136 Baltimore 1/10/1945 Scrapped, 1992
USS Chicago CL/CA-29 Northampton 3/9/1931 Sunk, 1943
USS Cincinnati CL-6 Omaha 1/1/1924 Scrapped, 1946
USS Cleveland CL-55 6/15/1942 Sold for Scrap, 1960
USS Columbia CL-56 Cleveland 7/29/1942 Sold for Scrap, 1959
USS Columbus CA-74 6/8/1945 Scrapped, 1977
USS Concord CL-10 Omaha 11/3/1923 Sold for Scrap, 1947
USS Dale CG-19 Leahy 11/23/1963 Sunk as Target, 2000
USS Dayton CL-105 1/7/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1962
USS Dayton CL-78 6/17/1943 Sold for Scrap
USS Denver CL-58 Cleveland 10/15/1942 Scrapped, 1960
USS Des Moines CA-134 Des Moines 11/16/1948 Scrapped
USS Detroit CL-8 Omaha 7/31/1923 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS Duluth CL-87 9/18/1944 Scrapped
USS England CG-22 Leahy 12/7/1963 Scrapped, 2004
USS Fall River CA-131 Baltimore 7/1/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1972
USS Fargo CL-106 Fargo 12/9/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1971
USS Fargo CL-85 Independence 8/31/1943 Sold for Scrap
USS Flint CL-97 Atlanta 8/31/1944 Scrapped, 1966
USS Fox CG-33 5/8/1966 To Be Scrapped
USS Fresno CL-121 11/27/1946 Scrapped, 1966
USS Galveston CL-93 Galveston 5/28/1958 Sold for Scrap, 1975
USS Gridley CG-21 Leahy 5/25/1963 Scrapped, 2005
USS Guam CB-2 9/17/1944 Scrapped
USS Halsey CG-23 Leahy 7/20/1963 Scrapped, 2003
USS Harry E. Yarnell CG-17 Leahy 2/2/1963 Scrapped, 2002
USS Helena CA-75 9/4/1945 Scrapped, 1974
USS Helena CL-50 St. Louis 9/18/1939 Sunk, 1943
USS Honolulu CL-48 Brooklyn 6/15/1938 Scrapped, 1949
USS Horne CG-30 4/15/1967 Sunk as Target, 2008
USS Houston CA-30 6/17/1930 Sunk, 1942
USS Houston CL-81 Cleveland 12/20/1943 Scrapped
USS Huntington CL-107 2/23/1946 Sold for Scrap, 1962
USS Indianapolis CA-35 Portland 11/15/1932 Sunk, 1945
USS Josephus Daniels CG-27 5/8/1965 Scrapped
USS Jouett CG-29 12/3/1966 Sunk, 2007
USS Juneau CL-119 Atlanta 2/15/1946 Sold for Scrap, 1962
USS Juneau CL-52 Atlanta 2/14/1942 Sunk, 1942
USS Leahy CG-16 Leahy 8/4/1962 Scrapped, 2005
USS Little Rock CG-4 Cleveland 6/17/1945 Museum Ship
USS Long Beach CGN-9 9/9/1961 Sub Recycling
USS Los Angeles CA-135 Baltimore 7/22/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1975
USS Louisville CL/CA-28 1/15/1931 Scrapped, 1959
USS Macon CA-132 Baltimore 8/26/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1973
USS Manchester CL-83 Cleveland 10/29/1946 Scrapped, 1960
USS Marblehead CL-12 Omaha 9/8/1924 Scrapped, 1946
USS Memphis CL-13 Omaha 2/4/1925 Scrapped, 1947
USS Miami CL-89 Cleveland 12/28/1943 Scrapped, 1962
USS Milwaukee CL-5 Omaha 6/20/1923 Sold for Scrap, 1949
USS Minneapolis CA-36 5/19/1934 Scrapped, 1959
USS Mississippi CGN-40 Virginia 8/5/1978 To Be Recycled
USS Missoula CA-13 Tennessee 7/21/1908 Scrapped, 1935
USS Mobile CL-63 Cleveland 3/24/1943 Scrapped, 1960
USS Montana ACR-13 Tennessee 7/21/1908 Scrapped, 1935
USS Montpelier CL-57 Cleveland 9/9/1942 Scrapped, 1960
USS Nashville CL-43 Brooklyn 6/6/1938 Sold to Chile, 1951
USS New Haven CL-76 3/31/1943 Sold for Scrap, 1960
USS New Orleans CL/CA-32 New Orleans 2/15/1934 Scrapped, 1959
USS Newark CL-100 Independence 11/15/1943 Scrapped
USS Newport News CA-148 Des Moines 1/29/1949 Scrapped, 1993
USS Northampton CA-125 3/7/1953 Scrapped
USS Northampton CA-26 5/17/1930 Sunk, 1942
USS Oakland CL-95 Atlanta 7/17/1943 Sold for Scrap, 1959
USS Oklahoma City CL-91 Galveston 12/22/1944 Sunk as Target, 1999
USS Omaha CL-4 Omaha 2/24/1923 Scrapped, 1946
USS Oregon City CA-122 Oregon City 2/16/1946 Scrapped, 1973
USS Pasadena CL-65 Cleveland 6/8/1944 Scrapped, 1970
USS Pensacola CL/CA-24 Pensacola 2/6/1930 Sunk as Target, 1948
USS Philadelphia CL-41 Brooklyn 9/23/1937 Sold to Brazil, 1951
USS Phoenix CL-46 10/3/1938 Sunk, 1982
USS Pittsburgh CA-72 Baltimore 10/10/1944 Sold for Scrap, 1974
USS Portland CL/CA-33 2/23/1933 Sold for Scrap, 1959
USS Portsmouth CL-102 Cleveland 6/25/1945 Scrapped, 1974
USS Providence CL-82 Cleveland 5/15/1945 Sold for Scrap, 1980
USS Quincy CA-39 6/9/1936 Sunk, 1942
USS Quincy CA-71 Baltimore 12/15/1943 Scrapped, 1974
USS Raleigh CL-7 2/6/1924 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS Reeves CG-24 Leahy 5/15/1964 Sunk as Target, 2001
USS Reno CL-96 Atlanta 12/28/1943 Scrapped, 1962
USS Richmond CL-9 Omaha 7/2/1923 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS Richmond K. Turner CG-20 Leahy 6/13/1964 Sunk as Target, 1998
USS Roanoke CL-145 Worcester 4/4/1949 Sold to Levin Metals, 1972
USS Rochester CA-124 Oregon City 12/20/1946 Scrapped, 1974
USS Salem CA-139 Des Moines 5/14/1949 Museum Ship
USS Salt Lake City CL/CA-25 Pensacola 12/11/1929 Sunk as Target, 1948
USS San Diego CL-53 Atlanta 1/10/1942 Sold for Scrap, 1960
USS San Francisco CA-38 2/10/1934 Scrapped, 1959
USS San Juan CL-54 Atlanta 2/28/1942 Sold for Scrap, 1961
USS Santa Fe CL-60 Cleveland 11/24/1942 Scrapped, 1959
USS Savannah CL-42 Brooklyn 3/10/1938 Scrapped, 1966
USS Seattle CA-11 Tennessee 8/7/1906 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS South Carolina CGN-37 California 1/25/1975 To Be Recycled
USS Spokane CL-120 Atlanta 5/17/1946 Sold for Scrap, 1973
USS Springfield CL-66 Cleveland 9/9/1944 Scrapped
USS Springfield CLG/CG-7 Cleveland 9/9/1944 Scrapped
USS St. Louis CL-49 St. Louis 5/19/1939 Sold to Brazil, 1951
USS St. Paul CA-73 Baltimore 2/17/1945 Scrapped, 1980
USS Sterett CG-31 4/8/1967 To Be Dismantled
USS Tallahassee CL-61 Independence 2/25/1943 Sunk, 1944
USS Texas CGN-39 Virginia 9/10/1977 Recycling, 2001
USS Ticonderoga CG-47 Ticonderoga 1/22/1983 To Be Scrapped, 2020
USS Toledo CA-133 Baltimore 10/27/1946 Sold for Scrap, 1974
USS Topeka CL-67 12/23/1944 Scrapped, 1975
USS Trenton CL-11 Omaha 4/19/1924 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS Truxtun CGN-35 Belknap 5/27/1967 Ship Recycling, 1999
USS Tucson CL-98 Atlanta 2/3/1945 Scrapped, 1971
USS Tuscaloosa CA-37 New Orleans 8/17/1934 Scrapped, 1959
USS Valley Forge CG-50 1/18/1986 Sunk as Target, 2006
USS Vicksburg CL-86 Cleveland 6/12/1944 Scrapped, 1964
USS Vincennes CA-44 New Orleans 2/24/1937 Sunk, 1942
USS Vincennes CG-49 Ticonderoga 7/6/1985 Sold for Scrap, 2010
USS Vincennes CL-64 Cleveland 1/21/1944 Sunk as Target
USS Virginia CGN-38 Virginia 9/11/1976 Ship Recycling, 2002
USS Washington ACR-11 Tennessee 8/7/1906 Sold for Scrap, 1946
USS Wichita CA-45 2/16/1939 Scrapped, 1959
USS Wilkes-Barre CL-103 Cleveland 7/1/1944 Sunk, 1972
USS William H. Standley CG-32 7/9/1966 Scrapped
USS Wilmington CL-79 Independence 7/24/1943 Scrapped, 2002
USS Worcester CL-144 Worcester 6/26/1948 Sold for Scrap, 1972
USS Worden CG-18 Leahy 8/3/1963 Sunk as Target, 2000
USS Yorktown CG-48 Ticonderoga 7/4/1984 Scheduled for Scrapping

03. Cruisers & Asbestos

Asbestos Use on Cruisers

Before the 1980s, many U.S. Navy ships used asbestos, including cruisers. The engines that powered the cruisers needed to withstand high temperatures. Other areas on Navy cruisers also needed insulation. Naval ships often used asbestos because of the mineral’s strong fireproofing qualities.

Many cruisers were built with asbestos pipes, turbines and valves. Asbestos insulation was also used to insulate pipes and other machinery. During installation, repair and maintenance, these materials may have been disturbed, putting nearby personnel at risk.

Other asbestos products that cruisers may have on board include:

Damaged or disturbed asbestos materials may release the mineral into the air. Once airborne, people in the area could inhale the fibers. Over time, the asbestos could trigger mesothelioma or other cancers.

04. Asbestos Exposure on Cruisers

Who Was at Risk of Asbestos Exposure on Cruisers?

Each cruiser had roughly 300 to 1,100 sailors on board, depending on its class. Thousands of Navy personnel may have experienced asbestos exposure.

Anyone who worked on pipes, boilers and other machinery may have been exposed. Often, crews would cut, saw or handle these asbestos products. Shipbuilders and shipyard workers also experienced occupational exposure while building or repairing cruisers.

Trades that risked asbestos exposure on cruisers and at shipyards include:

Sailors who worked in boiler rooms and other poorly ventilated areas were at particularly high risk. Poor ventilation can lead to high concentrations of asbestos fibers in the air.

When someone inhales or ingests asbestos dust, the fibers may embed in their organs. Over time, asbestos in the body can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. These diseases often have a long latency period, meaning the symptoms can take years to start. For example, mesothelioma symptoms can take 10 – 50 years to develop.

Today, Navy veterans and shipyard workers are still at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer.

05. Compensation Options

Compensation for People Exposed on Cruisers

People who developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure on cruisers may have compensation options. For example, Navy veterans may be eligible to file a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Along with their VA healthcare benefits, eligible veterans can receive compensation by filing a VA claim.

Veterans and their families may have other options, like asbestos lawsuits. Many veterans and workers have filed successful lawsuits after developing mesothelioma. They have filed these lawsuits against asbestos shipbuilding companies and asbestos manufacturers.

In one case, a former shipfitter developed asbestosis and lung cancer after working at New York Shipyard. He filed a lawsuit against Garlock Sealing Technologies, Keene Corporation and GAF Corporation. Other companies named in the lawsuit settled outside of court. From 1939 to 1945, he worked on several Navy light cruisers, including:

  • USS Alaska
  • USS Cleveland
  • USS Guam
  • USS Hawaii
  • USS Montpelier

Veterans can use compensation from a lawsuit, VA claim or other asbestos claims to help with treatment and other expenses. People can determine their eligibility by contacting a mesothelioma law firm. Lawyers at these law firms can help people understand their options.