The USS Cockatoo was a Bird-class 1 coastal minesweeper launched in 1936. It was commissioned on April 25, 1941, and served in the US Navy for 5 years until it was transferred to the Maritime Commission on September 23, 1946. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 17 men on board and had its main missions within the detachment of the 14th Naval District. Its thermal insulation and fire-resistant properties made asbestos both an ideal material for use in the shipbuilding industry and an insidious threat to human health. Inhaled asbestos fibers from the air can reach the ends of the small airways in the lungs or penetrate the pleura (the outer lining of the lung and chest wall). These fibers irritate the cells in the lung, eventually causing inflammation and genetic changes that can lead to cancer.