The USS Hyades (AF-28) was the flagship of the United States Navy's Hyades-class of stores ships, which were commissioned for duty during World War II. Its responsibilities included transporting supplies, perishable commodities, and equipment to and from ships in the fleet, as well as outlying outposts and staging locations. The ship was launched on 12 June 1943 by Gulf Shipbuilding Co., Chickasaw, Alabama, under a Maritime Commission contract; commissioned on 1 August 1944 by Bethlehem Steel, Baltimore, Maryland, following conversion, with Comdr. M. C. Wheyland in command; and decommissioned in late 1968. The USS Hyades (AF-28) was decommissioned at the Naval shipyard in Philadelphia in late 1968 and stricken from the Naval Register on 1 October 1976. Asbestos is a mineral composed of thin fibers shaped like needles that are invisible to the naked eye. When asbestos-containing materials are shredded or damaged in any way, these small needle-like fibers are released into the air. Once inhaled, they can cause irreparable damage to the lungs. Asbestos-related ailments often manifest decades after the initial exposure, making it difficult for sufferers to pursue claims.