Asbestos in the military

USS Corregidor (CVE-58)

The USS Corregidor (CVE-58) was originally planned as USS Auguilla Bay (AVG-58) but was renamed and reclassified first as ACV-58 then as CVE-58. She was ordered for the U.S. Navy on August 20, 1942. Her keel was laid down at Kaiser Shipyards. She was launched on May 12, 1943 and commissioned on August 31, 1943 under the command of Captain R. L. Bowman.

USS Corregidor joined the fighting in World War II at the end of 1943. She participated in the air strikes on the Gilbert Islands from November 10 to December 6.  She provided air cover for the invasion of Kwajalein in early 1944. She headed to Guadalcanal in March with the Third Fleet to cover the troop landings on Emirau Island. In April, she joined the Seventh Fleet for operations at Hollandia. She then joined in the invasion of Saipan in June, her aircraft taking down at least eight Japanese planes. In July, she participated at Eniwetok and Guam before heading to San Diego for overhaul.

When the USS Corregidor returned to combat action in October 26, she took on antisubmarine patrols to protect Allied shipping. In May 1945, she took on training duties at Pearl Harbor, which she continued until the end of the war when she participated in Operation Magic Carpet, bringing American servicemen home from war. She was decommissioned on July 30, 1946.

The USS Corregidor was recommissioned on May 19, 1951 to operate with the Military Sealift Command. She made several voyages through the Panama Canal from 1924 to 1954, bringing troops and cargo to UN forces in Korea. She was reclassified as T-CVU-58 on June 12, 1955. In 1958, her aircraft supported landings in Lebanon.

USS Corregidor was decommissioned on September 4, 1958 and sold for scrap on April 28, 1959. She received four battle stars for her service in World War II.

Like virtually all other aircraft carriers from the World War II era, the USS Corregidor was built using a number of asbestos-containing components.  The toxic substance asbestos was prized for its fireproofing abilities as well as its resistance to heat, water, and corrosion. As a cheap and readily available insulator, asbestos was used in nearly every area of the ship, including wall insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, electrical wiring, rope, sealants, engine rooms, turbines, incinerators, boilers, steam pipes, valves, hot water pipes, pumps, gaskets, caulking, and fire doors. Asbestos was also used in the construction of the aircraft she carried. The men who served on the USS Corregidor and were involved in her repair and overhaul were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos without protective clothing or respiratory gear. This put them at risk for developing a variety of asbestos-related illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and mesothelioma, a dangerous form of cancer that attacks the protective lining surrounding the lungs and other organs.

USS Corregidor workers should monitor their health carefully, and consult a doctor if they experience any symptoms associated with mesothelioma.  Anyone who worked on or around the USS Corregidor, and is diagnosed with mesothelioma, should also consider contacting a lawyer to discuss their legal rights.

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