The S.S. Cilco Logger was a World War II Liberty Ship built at the California Shipbuilding Corporation yard in Los Angeles, California during 1942. The vessel was launched in November of that year and was originally named Thomas Johnson. During the war, she was used primarily as a troop transport vessel.
Following the war in 1947, the Johnson was transferred to the Union Sulfur Corporation of New York and named for the company. It sailed in the service of Union Sulfur for eight years before she was sold to the Terminal Steamship Company in 1955 and given the name Cilco Logger.
In 1961, she was transferred to the Speed Steamship company and again named for the company (S.S. Speed). Later that same year, she was again transferred to the ownership of the Transocean Steamship Agency, sailing for the company's Panamanian subsidiary are placed under Greek registry as the S.S. Alfa.
Her last owner was the Gotham Steamship Agency of New York, to whom she was sold in 1964. The vessel was finally sold to a shipbreaking company in Taiwan and scrapped in 1967.
Asbestos poisoning is a genuine hazard to anyone who sailed or worked aboard a sea-going vessel built prior to 1980. By that time, asbestos insulation had been used as a flame retardant for years, but asbestos insulation came into particularly heavy use after the Morro Castle tragedy of 1934, in which nearly 140 people aboard were killed. This disaster led to federal legislation requiring ship builders to use asbestos insulation through a vessel's construction.
Asbestos product manufacturers had known of the health hazards of asbestos like mesothelioma by the late 1930s. However, in order to protect profits, the asbestos product manufacturers – W.R. Grace, Johns-Manville, Raysbestos and others – engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the information while spreading disinformation about their product. As a result, when the U.S. government finally issued advisories to war plant and shipyard workers in 1943 recommending the use of respirators and ventilation in closed areas, the warnings were not taken seriously. Because of such ignorance, mesothelioma navy cases are the most instances of reports from the armed forces.
Finally, in 1977, the plaintiff's lawyer in an asbestos lawsuit uncovered documents in the CEO's office at Raysbestos, Inc. These papers proved the existence of the four-decade long conspiracy. Limited asbestos litigation had started in earnest eleven years earlier. However, lawyers for the defense in these cases always argued that their clients had been ignorant of asbestos hazards and therefore could not be held liable.
Asbestos disease has a long latency period; signs of cancers such as malignant mesothelioma do not appear until several decades after initial exposure to asbestos in most cases. Diagnosis has historically been difficult, and proving that a specific asbestos product caused the disease is even more of a challenge. In order to successfully litigate an asbestos case, it is necessary to get diagnosed by a qualified oncologist and have thorough documentation of one's employment history - including vessels aboard which one worked, served or traveled and which asbestos-containing materials one was exposed to.
Asbestos litigation is very complicated, but a litigator with experience in this area is most likely to succeed in winning a settlement, as such legal professionals have access to decades worth of information regarding asbestos job sites, products and manufacturers.Sources
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos is Killing America. New York: Touchstone, 2003.
Mariners. “Liberty Ships – T.”