The USS Leedstown (APA-56) was a Windsor-class attack transport laid down on August 26, 1942, and launched on February 13, the following year. It was commissioned on July 16, 1943, under Comdr. Harold Bye’s command with the hull number APA-56 and served in the US Navy for 3 years until it was decommissioned on March 7, 1946. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 613 people on board and had its main missions in Tulagi, Guam, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Leedstown received 6 battle stars.
Right up until the mid-70s, asbestos was extensively used as heat protection for boilers on warships. Their coating contained up to 70% asbestos, with the mineral also present in gaskets and on free straps of insulation used for covering sensitive areas. Due to the high-temperature boilers were working under, maintenance crews had to strip layers of asbestos-leaden material to get to a defective part, which released high amounts of dust into the air.