The S.S. Blue Grass State started life as one of 534 “Victory Ships” built during the Second World War. These were successors of the earlier “Liberty Ships,” which were built to transport men and materiél to combat areas. Like the Liberty ship, a Victory ship could be built quickly for minimal cost. Unlike their predecessors, Victory ships were faster and better able to outrun a U-Boat.
The Bluegrass State was built at the Houston Shipbuilding Company shipyard in Texas and launched in 1944. After the war, she was sold to States Marine Lines, a private shipping company that wound up with several of these vessels.
Congress mandated the use of asbestos in the construction of sea-going vessels following the Morro Castle disaster in September 1934, in which almost 140 passengers and crew aboard the cruise liner S.S. Morro Castle perished. However, lawmakers were not privy to the information of which asbestos corporations and medical researchers were well aware – that asbestos was a genuine health hazard.
In the late 1930s, corporations such as W.R. Grace, Raysbestos, Johns-Manville and others agreed to withhold information about the health effects of asbestos or mesothelioma, or issue propaganda that would minimize any health concerns. The campaign was effective; by the time the U.S. Government started issuing advisories to war production plants in 1943, they were not taken seriously, making mesothelioma navy cases the most prevalent.
This conspiracy was revealed during an asbestos trial in 1977. The plaintiff's attorney in the case discovered correspondence in the office of the CEO of the Raysbestos Corporation dating back four decades proving that the major players in the asbestos industry had in fact been well aware of the health effects of asbestos and had agreed to suppress the information, or spread lies and propaganda that the product was somehow “safe.” After this, the defense of ignorance could no longer stand.
Today, the defense will often deny that the plaintiff's illness is caused by asbestos, or that it even is an asbestos disease. If you were among those who sailed aboard the Blue Grass State, you should be aware that symptoms of asbestos disease can take decades to become apparent, at which point such diseases are in their late stages. A solid diagnosis by a qualified oncologist is necessary in order to successfully litigate an asbestos case, since the symptoms of asbestos disease can mimic those of other disorders. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms presently, it is important to get regular, thorough checkups in order to diagnose malignant mesothelioma as early as possible.Sources
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos is Killing America. New York: Touchstone, 2003.
States Marine Lines. “SS Blue Grass State.”