Asbestos Exposure – Navy Ships

Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2016 at 12:27 pm    

Asbestos Exposure – Navy Ships. Before the dangers of asbestos exposure were known the U. S. Navy had asbestos added to more than 300 products commonly found on board a ship. Most U. S. Navy vessels built before 1980 were made with asbestos.

Why use asbestos?

Asbestos was used in building Navy vessels because of the properties it held:

  • Asbestos was affordable at the time
  • It had tensile strength which was needed for war ships
  • It was resistant to heat and chemical damage

Asbestos was used as an insulator, for fireproofing and for building materials. The use of asbestos was a necessity that the material was used from bow to stern.

Examples of items containing asbestos on a vessel are:

  • Engine and boiler rooms

    Asbestos Exposure - Navy Ships - Battleships: USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin

    Asbestos Exposure – Navy Ships – Battleships: USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin

  • Mess halls
  • Navigation rooms
  • Sleeping quarters

Asbestos was also used for:

  • Pipe covering
  • Cables
  • Block insulation
  • Paneling
  • Packing materials
  • Valves
  • Gaskets
  • Adhesives
  • Deck covering materials
  • Hydraulic assemblies
  • Thermal materials
  • Grinders
  • Capacitors
  • Bedding components
  • Valves
  • Boilers
  • Tubes
  • Aggregate mixtures

The U. S. Navy has taken action to remove existing asbestos from its ships, however, because of age the asbestos has become brittle which makes it tedious to remove. Due to being brittle the asbestos poses a hazard to the people’s health if safety guidelines are not strictly followed. Today, there are fewer asbestos containing products found in U. S. Navy ships and shipyards. The reason why asbestos is still found is as a result of no other alternative materials being available.

Asbestos exposure was not limited to one specific area on a Navy vessel. There were high, medium and low risk areas across the ships.

High asbestos risk areas:

  • Pump room
  • Engine and boiler rooms
  • Damage control area

Medium asbestos risk areas:

  • Ward room
  • Turret

Low asbestos risk areas:

  • Crew berthing space
  • Junior officers quarters
  • Side bay
  • Open bridge
  • Pilot house
  • Captain’s sea cabin
  • Reefer
  • Mess deck
  • Chain locker

The last battleship to be on active duty was the USS Missouri (BB 63) which was decommissioned on 31 March 1992. As of the 21st century, there are no battleships in the U. S. Navy. Despite all battleships having being decommissioned, there is much to learn on battleship history.

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