The USS Absecon (AVP-23) was a Barnegat-class seaplane tender laid down on July 23, 1941 and launched on March 8, the followfing year. The ship was in commission in the United States Coast Guard as the cutter USCGC Absecon (WAVP-374), later WHEC-374, from 1949 to 1972. Transferred to South Vietnam in 1972, she served in the Republic of Vietnam Navy as the frigate RVNS Pham Ngu Lao (HQ-15) until she was captured by North Vietnam at the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975. After that, she served in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's Vietnam People's Navy as PRVSN Pham Ngu Lao (HQ-01). By virtue of its heat resistance and insulating properties, asbestos was used in the areas of the ship that was exposed to significant heat, for instance, near turbines and boiler rooms. In addition, asbestos was used in electrical wiring and as insulation of pipes on the ships. Between the 1930s and the 1980s, thousands of Navy veterans have been exposed to asbestos without adequate safety precautions being taken, despite it being a known fact that inhaling asbestos fibers caused cancer.