The USS Leutze (DD-481), a Fletcher-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II, was laid down on 3 June 1941 by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, and launched 29 October 1942; and commissioned 4 March 1944, with Commander B. A. Robbins, Jr., in command. While the destroyer did not have a long fate, it still contained large amounts of asbestos and even short exposure to this carcinogen can result in diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Asbestos materials are not dangerous to be around unless fibers are being released into the air, where they can be inhaled or ingested by an individual. Taking apart ship materials and repairing damaged ones also put Navy personnel and workers in shipyards at risk for exposure to these fibers. Older ships loaded with asbestos materials were retired as technology improved and new ships were constructed. Shipyard workers would destroy these vessels, releasing hazardous asbestos particles into the open.