The USS West Virginia (BB-48) was a Colorado-class battleship laid down on April 12, 1920, and launched on November 19, 1921. It was commissioned on December 1, 1923, with the hull number BB-48 and served in the US Navy for 24 years until it was decommissioned on January 9, 1947. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 1,407 men on board and had its main missions in Hampton Roads, Bremerton, Pearl Harbor, Leyte, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. It was repaired in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard after the Japanese attack. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy Register on March 1, 1959, and subsequently sold for scrapping. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS West Virginia received 5 battle stars.
From the 1930s to the early 1980s, every branch of the military regularly used asbestos for its fire-retardant and insulating properties. This was before the health risks were known. U.S. Navy veterans have the highest incidence of asbestos-related diseases, especially personnel who served on ships whose keeps were laid down before 1980.