The SS Paul Hamilton was a Liberty ship built during World War II, named after Paul Hamilton, the 3rd United States Secretary of the Navy, from 1809 to 1813. The SS Paul Hamilton was laid down on 30 August 1942 under a Maritime Commission contract and launched on 20 October 1942. An overwhelming majority of the veterans who served in the U.S. Navy at that time entered in contact with asbestos. This hazardous mineral was extensively used in the equipment carried aboard and also found in the materials required for building the vessels. The toxic substance was present everywhere starting with pipes and turbines rooms, to mess halls and sleeping quarters. One could have possibly been exposed to asbestos, either by being a part of the crew serving in the Navy, but also by being implicated in some way in the process of building or dismantling ships, both processes involved the release of asbestos fibers into the air. On 20 April 1944, the ammunition-laden Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton was completely destroyed after being struck by a German aerial torpedo launched from a Junkers Ju 88A. None of the 8 officers, 39 crew, 29 armed guards, and 504 troops aboard survived.