Having sunk a total of 53,443 tons of Japanese shipping, the USS Lapon (SS-260) was awarded Navy Unit Commendation and 4 battle stars. The submarine, sponsored by Mrs. J. B. Oldendorf, wife of Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, was laid down in 1942. Since it was built during the middle of the last century, asbestos was present on the vessel, mostly in the form of wall insulation. In 1957, the USS Lapon was transferred to Greece and 19 years later, it was cannibalized for spare parts.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which was used frequently in the mining, construction, and shipbuilding industry during World War II and the Vietnam War. It was used because of its non-flammable, flexible, and low heat-conducting properties. Despite its wide use, asbestos is very dangerous due to the fact it is comprised of millions of long, thin fibers which can be inhaled into the lungs.