Navy Gunnery Officers and Asbestos Exposure


Asbestos exposure has been an issue in the U.S. armed forces for a long time, but it was prevalent among military personnel in service before the 1980s. Decades of heavy asbestos use resulted in hundreds of thousands of service members being exposed to toxic asbestos dust.

The severity of asbestos exposure often depended on the military job or location, as military bases and naval yards were leading the list of job sites with high asbestos exposure risks. Moreover, active-duty members' transportation and lodging were also contaminated with the toxic substance.

Asbestos becomes hazardous over time when wear and tear make the material friable, increasing the chances of releasing fibers into the air when disturbed. Due to their structure and size, airborne asbestos particles create a dust cloud that can linger in the air for hours. These tiny sharp-edged threads are easy to inhale or ingest, and once inside the body, they permanently injure major organs, causing devastating asbestos-related conditions. The effects of exposure take decades to set in. It is why veterans, including naval gunnery officers, may discover only now that they have developed asbestos-related health issues, including cancer, such as:

Former military personnel diagnosed with the diseases mentioned above can file expedited claims and are immediately eligible for compensation if they can show proof of asbestos exposure and their medical papers state one of these malignant illnesses.

Service Aboard Naval Vessels Exposed Everyone to Asbestos

Daily tasks like maintenance and repairs routinely disturbed products made with asbestos, including insulation and paint used on vessels, increasing the risk of asbestos exposure for all personnel. Moreover, handling asbestos without protective gear was common, as asbestos dust was not considered dangerous.

For gunnery officers, daily duty often meant working in small and cramped spaces with poor ventilation below the deck, an optimal environment for risking inhaling or ingesting airborne asbestos threads. Naval gunnery officers were responsible for the operation and maintenance of the ship's guns and the safe storage of the ship's ammunition inventory. They were considered the most crucial department heads aboard warships; gunnery officers led a team of specialists that oversaw the operation of the fire control director, carrying out tasks such as:

  • identifying the most immediate threats
  • directing the gun director onto the target
  • defining the type of target
  • selecting the appropriate ammunition to use

Gunnery officers also worked on calculating shot vectors in the transmitting station; the tasks included computer data input and gathering multiple-source data, such as:

  • target course and speed
  • target bearing
  • radar ranges
  • spotting
  • ship's course and speed
  • powder temperature
  • barometric pressure
  • wind velocity and direction

As guided missiles and torpedoes became more efficient than naval artillery, shipboard guns were included in the weapons department, replacing the older gunnery department; gunnery officers reported to weapons officers about the ship's guns.

Adding Years to Life With a Correct Diagnosis

Diseases associated with asbestos exposure may remain latent for up to 50 years, making their discovery and accurate diagnosis difficult. Only a pulmonologist with experience in diagnosing patients with lung diseases caused by asbestos exposure can give an exact assessment and recognize the stage of the disease. Because of the decades-long development period, asbestos diseases often reach advanced stages by the time they're discovered, considerably reducing the chances of timely care. To prevent such situations, former Navy personnel should request regular health check-ups and chest X-rays or CT scans along with pulmonary function tests when experiencing symptoms such as:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • unintentional weight loss
  • persistent dry cough
  • pain with inspiration

The complexity of asbestos-related diseases leads to frequent misdiagnosis cases because most doctors are likely to misinterpret the signs. Seeking a second or a third doctor's opinion outside the VA is highly recommended, as asbestos conditions often produce symptoms similar to common respiratory affections. Speaking to your doctor about your military years and possible asbestos exposure on the ships significantly helps recognize illnesses stemming from it. A thorough evaluation can reveal non-cancerous asbestos diseases such as:

Even if these illnesses don't qualify a veteran for compensation, they should be observed as they tend to become malignant. Periodic medical consultations can timely spot cancerous diseases, and a cancer diagnosis will make veterans eligible for claims.

Helping Navy Veterans by Connecting Them With an Asbestos Lawyer

Former naval personnel exposed to asbestos during their time aboard a Navy ship and who developed asbestos-related cancer can pursue compensation from asbestos trust funds and the VA by taking legal steps if they have proof of asbestos exposure and documented diagnosis of their malignant disease.

Many veterans may not have been informed about the health risks of asbestos on the ships and the likelihood that their daily routine increased their exposure to the toxic asbestos fibers. We can assist you in contacting legal specialists who can help you gain the indemnification you deserve for your pain and suffering.

If you have a cancer diagnosis please contact us

Related News & Updates