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 has been 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 responsible for directing, training, and supervising the personnel on a ship and has other related duties like:

  • leading working parties
  • performing seamanship tasks
  • supervising the damage control parties

Boatswain's mates act as petty officers in charge of packet boats, self-propelled barges, and tugs. Regarding cargo, ammunition, fuel, or general stores, they are responsible for the equipment utilized in the loading and unloading.

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. 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.

Navy veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer immediately qualify to file claims with asbestos trust funds and the VA. We offer assistance by connecting you with experienced lawyers to help you with your case.

If you have a cancer diagnosis please contact us

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