The USS Alabama BB-60 has been called “Lucky A,” “Mighty A,” and the “Heroine of the Pacific.” The battleship bears a proud history, having served in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of World War II in several critical raids, attacks, and bombardments. Unfortunately, a darker story also follows the ship: the history of USS Alabama and asbestos exposure.
The History of the USS Alabama and Asbestos Ashore and at Sea
The USS Alabama is one of four South Dakota-class battleships built by the United States Navy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. At that time, asbestos was commonly used in construction materials of all kinds, including many forms of insulation, piping, wiring, valves, gaskets, cables, adhesives, flooring and ceiling tiles, and more. All four of the South Dakota-class battleships built at the beginning of World War II are known to have contained significant quantities of asbestos.
Building a Battleship: The USS Alabama and Asbestos Exposure in Shipyard Workers
Construction of the USS Alabama began on February 1, 1940, at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. An estimated 3,000 workers were involved in the ship’s assembly over the next two years. Many of the ships countless components contained asbestos, which was commonly used in insulation and other construction products at that time.
Asbestos exposure occurs when materials containing tiny asbestos fibers are disturbed and those fibers become airborne. Throughout the construction of USS Alabama, shipyard workers of all disciplines would likely have been exposed to high concentrations of disrupted asbestos, often in closed and poorly ventilated areas.
A Proud Legacy of Service
The USS Alabama was first launched two years after construction began, on February 16, 1942. Henrietta McCormick Hill, the wife of Alabama Senator Lister Hill, christened the ship in their state’s honor. The ship was then commissioned, or assigned to active military duty, on August 16, 1942. Tactical training and exercises were conducted in the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland and Casco Bay, Maine between November of 1924 and March of 1943.
Upon request of the British Royal Navy for assistance securing shipping lanes and protecting fleets near Britain and Russia, the USS Alabama reported for service in the Atlantic with the British Home Fleet, where it remained until August 1, 1943.
After a brief period of overhaul and repair, USS Alabama made its way through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean, where it joined the United States’ Third Fleet near Efate Island. Between 1943 and 1945, USS Alabama and its crew of 2,500 protected aircraft carriers and other members of its fleets and participated in many military campaigns that captured islands held by the Japanese. Throughout its years in the Pacific, the ship was awarded nine battle stars and a Navy Occupation Service Medal for its remarkable service.
At the war’s end, in September 1945, the ship carried home an estimated 3,700 passengers, aiding in the mission to return military service men and women to the mainland. The USS Alabama was decommissioned, or placed out of active service, in January 1947 and joined a reserve fleet at Bremerton, Washington.
In 1964, the battleship traveled again through the Panama Canal, this time on its way to Mobile Bay in Alabama, where the USS Alabama would become the crown jewel of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, a site dedicated to the men and women of Alabama who served in the armed forces. The ship was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Mesothelioma and the USS Alabama: The Grim Side of History
The legacy of USS Alabama is largely one of victory and heroism. However, there is a troubling piece of the ship’s history that must not be ignored. Workers involved in the construction and repair of USS Alabama, as well as the servicemembers who served aboard the ship, were likely exposed to disturbed asbestos fibers in closed and poorly ventilated areas. According to the National Cancer Institute, this kind of exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Concerns About USS Alabama and Asbestos
Exposure to asbestos occurred during military service in more than 30% of mesothelioma cases, according to the Mesothelioma Veteran’s Center. Among United States military service branches, those who served in the United States Navy or Marines are at highest risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos exposure-related diseases. If you or a loved one worked aboard USS Alabama and mesothelioma or other diseases resulted from asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation.
The United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs notes that benefits are available to military service members who were exposed to asbestos during their military service and later developed medical conditions related to that exposure. The Department notes that shipyard workers and those involved in insulation work are among the most likely to be affected. Medical benefits are available as well as trusts that have been established for the compensation of military servicemembers who have become ill as a result of asbestos exposure during their service.
If you or a loved one worked aboard the USS Alabama and asbestos exposure has caused a serious medical condition, a law firm with experience in mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases can ease your burdens and get you the help you deserve. The Nemeroff Law Firm knows what forms of compensation are available and will work to secure maximum benefits for you and your family. Contact us today at 866-342-1929 for a free and confidential evaluation, or complete our free case evaluation now.