Resources for Patients and their Families

Brown Shipyard

In 1942, the Brown Shipbuilding Company was founded by brothers George and Herman Brown to serve the United States war effort during World War II. The shipbuilding facility began by answering a request from Navy officials to build four submarine chasers. Although they had no direct shipbuilding facilities, the brothers founded the shipbuilding company with $9 million in Navy funds and delivered the ships on time.

Afterward, orders from the U.S. Navy continued, and the Brown Shipyard workers constructed landing craft, destroyer escorts, and additional sub chasers before the war ended. In a little more than 12 months, the facility cosntructed 61 destroyer escorts, averaging about one craft per week. Brown employees also built 254 amphibious assualt ships, and by the end of the war, had completed more than 350 Navy warships, with contracts worth more than $500 million.

At its peak, Brown employed mkore than 25,000 people during the course of the war effort to serve the needs of the United States Navy.

Once the war was over, the shipyard was sold to Todd Houston Shipbuiilding Company, which closed in 1985. The facility was once again used by the Brown concern, this tiem under the name of Brown and Root, which specialized in the construction and repair of barges and other vessels which were integral to the gulf shipping and transport business. In 2004, the property was sold to multiple buyers.

During its many years of operation, and up until the mid 1970s, Brown used many products which contained asbestos. This silica-based mineral was highly valued for its use in marine applications, due to its high resistance to both heat and corrosive moisture. Both flexible and strong, asbestos lent itself to a number of wide ranging applications, including boiler components, gaskets and valves, and marine coatings.

The federal government banned the use of asbestos in these facilities in the mid 1970s, following a spate of serious safety and health warnings regarding the risks of asbestos exposure. But because the particles of asbestos form a fine, airborne dust, many of these facilities continued to remain contaminated with the mineral long after legislation was enacted.

As a result, workers employed at the Brown facility would have risked prolonged exposure to asbestos particles on a regular basis.

The effects of asbestos exposure are insidious and permanent. Once inhaled, the fibers attach themselves to the lungs and other organs, where they can cause potentially deadly conditions including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. If you worked at Brown, you should speak to your doctor about your potential for malignant mesothelioma as mesothelioma navy cases are most common.

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