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Naval Submarine Base New London began in 1868 as a naval yard and storage depot. By 1916, it had become a submarine base and would later become a school. Many submarines spent time at the base, including USS Memphis. The submarine base’s long history presented many opportunities for asbestos exposure and the risk of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Today, Naval Submarine Base New London is still in operation under the U.S. Navy.


01. Shipyard History

History

Located in Groton, Connecticut, Naval Submarine Base New London was named after the Connecticut city, New London, where its main housing and offices were located. The base began as a naval yard and storage depot for inactive vessels in 1868.

It wasn’t until 1872 that it was officially declared a Navy Yard after two buildings and a pier were built. In 1916, the yard was declared a submarine base. After World War I (WWI), schools and training bases were established. One of the more famous training features still in operation at the base is “The Submarine Escape Training Tank.”

In 1954, the first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, joined the base. Today, this National Historic Landmark is located in Groton and open to the public.

Despite being up for closure in 2005, Naval Submarine Base New London currently has 11 submarine piers and 15 submarines and employs over 9,500 personnel. It is where most submariners in the U.S. Navy receive their training.

Naval Submarine Base New London History At-A-Glance

  • Other Names: U.S. Naval Submarine Base, SUBASE New London
  • Location: Along the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut
  • Owner(s): U.S. Navy
  • Years of Operation: 1868 – present
  • Wartime Operations: World War I (WWI), World War II (WWII)
  • Number of Employees: More than 9,500 as of 2021
  • Size of Shipyard: 687 acres
  • Noteworthy Ships: USS Ozark, USS Nautilus, USS Alexandria, USS Annapolis, USS Dallas, USS Hartford, USS Memphis, USS Miami, USS Missouri, USS New Hampshire, USS Pittsburgh, USS Providence, USS San Juan, USS Springfield, USS Toledo, USS Virginia
  • Types of Ships Built/Serviced: Submarines, submarine tenders

Many workers at Naval Submarine Base New London were potentially exposed to asbestos. Workers’ loved ones may have also experienced secondhand exposure. As a result, many people developed asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. People who developed an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation.

Notable Ships Built and Repaired

As one of the oldest operating bases for the U.S. Navy, Naval Submarine Base New London has seen many submarines at its port. Some of these submarines were used for training or deployments from the base. One of those submarines was the USS Memphis.

Quick Ship Facts
  • Ship’s Name: USS Memphis
  • Year Built: 1973
  • Years In Service: 1977 – 2012

The nuclear-powered attack submarine, USS Memphis, was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in 1973. Throughout its service, the ship spent time at Naval Submarine Base New London, where it supported training exercises and was actively deployed.

USS Memphis had several overhauls and repairs during her lifetime. In 2006, Memphis was deployed to aid the Global War on Terrorism. The ship was decommissioned in 2012.

Asbestos was still being used in submarine construction until the mid-1970s. Anyone who constructed the USS Memphis, completed repairs and overhauls or worked on the ship is at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma.

02. Shipyard Asbestos Use

Asbestos Use at Naval Submarine Base New London

Because asbestos is heat resistant and durable, it was commonly used in ship construction. Raw asbestos and various asbestos products were used throughout ships to help prevent fires. Use of the mineral also helped control heat emitted by machinery, such as boilers and engines.

Naval Submarine Base New London was an active worksite during both world wars, when asbestos was also commonly used on ships. Workers at Naval Submarine Base New London used asbestos as insulation in walls, around pipes, in boilers and elsewhere on ships. As a result, workers came in contact with many products that put them at risk of asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos product highlight: Boilers

Boilers generate high temperatures and high pressure. As a result, many boilers were manufactured with asbestos components, including insulation and gaskets, to control the heat. People who installed or maintained boilers on ships risked exposure to asbestos. These asbestos materials could become worn over time, releasing fibers into the air and harming those aboard the ship.

Asbestos Exposure at Naval Submarine Base New London

It was common for members of the U.S. military and civilians to provide labor in shipyards and on ships. Asbestos was used in most shipyards and aboard most Navy vessels from the 1930s to the 1980s. This likely exposure puts Navy veterans at an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma cancer.

People who constructed or maintained submarines and submarine tenders during this time were likely exposed to asbestos. These people often worked in space-constrained and poorly ventilated areas, which possibly allowed more asbestos fibers to remain in the air.

For example, enginemen and machinists faced asbestos exposure.

Exposed to asbestos at work: Enginemen and machinists

Enginemen and machinists worked in engine rooms that were often laden with asbestos. The asbestos was contained in and around engine piping, insulation, adhesives and gaskets. Working in and around these items put these workers at a high risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is no longer used in most manufactured products. However, its historical presence in ships and navy vessels can put people at risk of exposure. People who repair or decommission ships built from the 1930s to the 1980s currently face asbestos exposure. Many shipyard responsibilities, such as installing insulation and pipes, led to frequent exposure.

03. Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos Lawsuits and Settlements

Employees and visitors of Naval Submarine Base New London are at risk of developing asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestos cancer. If diagnosed, such individuals have several legal options for compensation.

Victims may obtain financial compensation from the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. Their options will depend on the companies’ current statuses. The best route for any victim is to work with a mesothelioma lawyer who can ensure they pursue and obtain payment from a lawsuit, settlement, VA claim and/or trust fund (or a combination of these types of claims).

Holding Asbestos Companies Responsible

Some asbestos product manufacturers remain in business today. This means these companies have not filed for bankruptcy and victims can file lawsuits against asbestos companies. Lawsuits may result in compensation through verdicts or settlements.

Uniroyal Holding, Inc. manufactured asbestos-containing products, including insulation, that were used at Naval Submarine Base New London. People who worked with these products were wrongfully exposed to asbestos.

Another example of a viable company is Crown, Cork & Seal. In 1963, Crown, Cork & Seal bought Mundet, a firm that made cork bottle caps and insulation that contained asbestos. This insulation was used in shipyards and exposed workers and crew to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Several victims have filed successful lawsuits against these asbestos companies.

Example Lawsuit Recovery for Naval Submarine Base New London Worker

69-Year-Old U.S. Navy Fireman and Engineman Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Recovery: $2.2 million

Dates of Asbestos Exposure at Naval Submarine Base New London: 1960 – 1962

A United States Navy fireman and engineman spent two years at U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London. During this time, he worked around boiler workers, insulators and pipefitters who performed repairs and maintenance of engines, boilers, gaskets and pumps. This work on asbestos-containing products created dust which he inhaled.

04. Filing Asbestos Claims

Asbestos Company Trusts

After exposing unknowing people to asbestos, many companies have filed for bankruptcy. In fact, more than 100 asbestos companies have gone bankrupt since the 2000s. As a result of their filings, many of these companies were forced to create asbestos trusts to compensate victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Many Navy and civilian personnel were exposed to asbestos through their work in shipyards. These individuals used a variety of asbestos products. If a shipyard worker developed an asbestos-related disease, that person can file a claim with that product manufacturer’s trust.

Asbestos Company Trust Funds and Eligible Years of Employment

The following companies provided asbestos products to Naval Submarine Base New London. After facing many asbestos lawsuits and exposing innocent people to asbestos, these companies filed for bankruptcy and created trusts to pay victims. If an individual worked at Naval Submarine Base New London and developed a disease such as mesothelioma, they may be able to file a claim against these companies’ trusts.

Asbestos Trust Funds & Eligible Years of Employment
Asbestos Company Name Eligibility Start Date Eligibility End Date
Burns and Roe 1/1/1962 12/31/1962
Babcock and Wilcox 1/1/1912 12/31/1982
Fibreboard 1/1/1956 12/31/1982
G-I Holdings (GAF) 3/12/1965 12/31/1982
Keene Corp. 1/1/1920 12/31/1970
Owens Corning 1/1/1959 12/31/1982

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