Navy ships and shipyards generated the most severe asbestos exposure conditions due to tremendous amounts of asbestos fireproofing and insulation products intended to cover equipment that could reduce damage from enemy attacks.
The enclosed vessel spaces were filled with high concentrations of this toxic material, and workers were constantly covered by this dust, given by the poor ventilation and tight quarters where ship workers ate, lived, and slept.
Aside from the common areas and the crew's living cabins, many other different parts of the ship were contaminated, such as boiler rooms, engine rooms, and mess halls. Asbestos inhalation can cause further life-threatening diseases, and nobody was safe from exposure, and veterans unknowingly breathed fibers during their service.
Among the crew members that were exposed on Navy ships, the relevant job titles include:
- officers of the deck
- culinary specialists
- cryptologic technicians
- sonar technicians
Gerald L., a ship's cook on USS ABSD-7, said before his demise in 2017: "Contrary to popular belief, everyone who served in the Navy made sacrifices that generated threats they were not ready for. As we continue to fight for our lives, we now realize that even our equipment contained asbestos and accelerated our resulting diseases."