Boatswain's Mates And Asbestos Exposure


If you worked for the US Navy, you deserve to know that you were likely exposed to a toxic mineral that causes a series of health problems.

Asbestos was widely used during the shipbuilding process, as over 300 products necessary for it contained asbestos. The problem with this material is that when damaged, it releases dust into the air, and anyone who works with or around this can easily inhale it.

The first public case of death following asbestos exposure was registered in 1924. Even so, it was fully used in many industries since then, but the US Navy stopped building ships with asbestos in 1985.

Boatswain's mates were also at risk of developing respiratory diseases just like other workers on a ship: boilermen, pipefitters, machinist's mates, plumbers, shipfitters, or carpenters. We should mention that a boatswain is an officer who has the role of assisting the first lieutenant and supervising the crew.

A Boatswain's mate is in charge of directing, training and supervising the personnel on a ship. Taking charge of working parties, acting as petty officer-in-charge of packet boats, self-propelled barges, and tugs, and performing seamanship tasks are among a boatswain's mate's responsibilities.

Also, they are in charge of the damage control parties. Whenever some cargo, ammunition, fuel, or general stores are involved, the boatswain is responsible for the equipment utilized for loading and unloading these items. Plus, he has to report to his superior everything that happens on the ship.

The asbestos exposure area was extremely varied in the case of a boatswain because his responsibilities were many, including the maintenance of the entire ship.

So, he was exposed to this dangerous mineral whenever he worked with paint, floor tiles, and electrical components or when the cargo loaded on the ship contained asbestos.

According to Thomas E., boatswain on the USS Barney DDG-6, this occupation involved a lot of dangers: "This ship was laden with dangerous levels of asbestos, mercury metals, and leaded paints. We were exposed while we were supervising the crew, while we were doing our jobs below the deck, and even while we were dealing with the floor tiles." He is now suffering from mesothelioma.

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