The USS Zebra (AKN-5) was a net cargo ship belonging to the Indus-class used in World War II by the United States. Built as a Liberty Ship by the Permanente Metals Corporation in Richmond California and named SS Mathew Lyon, the ship was acquired by the War Shipping Administration in April 1943 and converted to a net cargo ship after a naval officer recognized its potential. Before its conversion, the ship was operated by a private contractor for the WSA but got heavily damaged by a torpedo shot by a Japanese submarine.
Many Navy personnel serving honorably aboard ships have been exposed to harmful asbestos used as insulating material around boilers, pumps, and pipes. Up until health risks associated with its use caused hefty federal restrictions to be placed on it in the mid-1970s, asbestos was seen as a durable but inexpensive material with excellent resistance to heat and fire—in other words, ideal for use in shipbuilding and ship repairs.