USS Gualala (AOG-28) Areas With Asbestos Exposure

The USS Gualala (AOG-28) was a Mettawee-class gasoline tanker launched on June 3, 1944. It was commissioned on August 25, the same year under Lt. Gerald T. Allworth’s command with the hull number AOG-28 and it served in the U.S. Navy for 2 years until it was decommissioned on March 29, 1946. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 62 people on board and had its main missions in New York, Guantanamo, Biak Island, Mios Woendi, Balikpapan, Saipan, San Francisco, and New Guinea. After decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on May 1, 1946, and sold to Brazil where it was renamed Rijo. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Gualala received one battle star. Poor ventilation systems on Navy ships often meant larger concentrations of airborne fibers below deck and in sleeping quarters. Vessels were covered in contaminated materials, like insulation and paint. Sailors and crew members often had to repair the ships, which frequently meant chipping and grinding away at carcinogenic materials, releasing toxic fibers into the air. It takes decades for the toxic fibers to create the scarring that can lead to tumors, making it likely that more Navy veterans will be diagnosed with a multitude of diseases solely due to prolonged exposure.

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