The USS Serpens (AK-97) was a Crater-class cargo ship that served the United States Navy during World War II. The ship was constructed under a MARCOM contract as the Liberty Ship SS Benjamin N. Cardozo by the California Shipbuilding Corporation at Terminal Island. Operated by the United States Coast Guard, the ship carried out supply missions in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, specifically the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Hebrides, and Guadalcanal. Mesothelioma is a progressive disease, with a 10-50 year-latency period developing over years or even decades in many Navy veterans exposed to asbestos during their active service. Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive dyspnea - a feeling of breathlessness - and in severe cases can be fatal. If your loved one is a Navy veteran or former shipyard worker and has just been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis, he/she is e eligible for free health care, disability compensation, and other VA benefits.