The USS Demeter (ARB-10) was an Aristaeus-class battle damage repair ship laid down on October 25, 1944, and launched on January 19, the following year. It was commissioned on July 3, 1945, under Lt. E. V. Converse’s command with the hull number ARB-10 and served in the US Navy for 2 years until it was decommissioned on May 2, 1947. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 260 people on board and had its main missions in San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Charleston, and Florida. After the decommissioning, the ship was sold and used for commercial service where it was renamed SS Motonave. In 1964, the USS Demeter sank.
Asbestos was a popular material within shipyards, used to insulate hulls, pipes, incinerators, and boilers and in materials such as gaskets, valves, and cement throughout the ship. Because the dangers of asbestos were concealed by the manufacturers for decades, Navy personnel were often exposed while performing routine maintenance tasks or while the ships were being repaired in dry dock.