USS John Willis (DE-1027) Areas With Asbestos Exposure

USS John Willis (DE-1027)

The USS John Willis DE-1027 was a Dealey-class destroyer escort laid down on July 5, 1955, and launched on February 4, 1956. It was commissioned on February 21, 1957, under Lt. Comdr. H. O. Anson’s command with the hull number DE-1027 and served in the U.S. Navy for 15 years until it was struck from the Navy List on July 14, 1972. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 170 people on board and had its main missions in Rhode Island, Cuba, Newport, Gibraltar, Key West, the English coast, and the West Indies. Asbestos-containing materials were used in every U.S. Navy ship, thereby posing occupational hazards to the thousands of people who built and repaired these vessels. Navy jobs with likelihoods for asbestos exposure include boiler operators, demolition specialists, hull technicians, machinists, mechanics, pipefitters, welders, and radiomen. Some Navy jobs were performed in tight areas with poor ventilation and workers were rarely provided with respiratory protective equipment. For example, radiomen had to perform their jobs in small areas on Navy ships. The most common type of asbestos used in electrical wiring was crocidolite - the most hazardous type of asbestos in the amphibole family -because its extremely fine sharp fibers are particularly easy to inhale or ingest.

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Shipmates on USS John Willis (DE-1027)