The HMS Cooke (K471) was an Evarts-class destroyer escort originally laid down on March 11, 1943, as USS Dempsey DE-267 and launched on April 22, the same year. It was transferred to the United Kingdom and served there for 3 years as HMS Cooke K471 until it was transferred back to the U.S. Navy on March 5, 1946. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 156 people on board. After the return, the ship was sold for scrapping the following year.
Asbestos was used in the construction of many different parts of ships as insulation and fire-retardant for piping, boilers, electrical fixtures, and other materials. Many Navy and Merchant Marine personnel who worked in naval and commercial shipyards prior to the regulation of asbestos were at risk of inhaling small-sized particles that lodge themselves within the lungs irritating them constantly.