SS John Harvey Areas With Asbestos Exposure

SS John Harvey

The SS John Harvey was a Liberty Ship launched by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in January 1943. The usage of chemical weapons recently having been approved, the SS John Harvey was loaded with 2000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs at Oran, Algeria heading for Bari, Italy. Because the port was filled with ships waiting to be unloaded, the ship had to wait with the dangerous cargo on board for a few days. Due to unfortunate timing, the ship was still waiting at the docks when German aircraft attacked Bari, on 2 December 1943, resulting in 17 ships sunk and over 1000 human casualties. The SS John Harvey exploded, spilling all the liquid sulfur mustard in the water which soon formed a cloud that spread all over the city. Although asbestos is no longer used in shipbuilding, refitting operations of older ships, particularly of military and civilian commercial vessels can expose workers to the fibers or dust produced by the substance. During the ship decommissioning process, workers may be exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers. As such, it still represents a significant risk to the health and safety of commercial marine workers.

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Shipmates on SS John Harvey