The USS Bennington and Asbestos: A Mixed Legacy

Image of USS Bennington, representing those who worked on or around the USS Bennington and asbestos and how the attorneys at Nemeroff Law Firm can help determine the legal rights of anyone diagnosed with asbestos-related disease as a result.

History does not make us think of the USS Bennington and asbestos. Instead, we think of the contributions the USS Bennington (CV-20) made to World War II and the Vietnam War. But those who built, served on, or serviced the ship may be carrying a deadly piece the Bennington with them: asbestos. Although asbestos is a natural material, we now know that exposure to asbestos can have deadly consequences.

Contributions of the USS Bennington and Asbestos Dangers

Building the USS Bennington and Asbestos in the Construction

The USS Bennington (CV-20) was ordered for the U.S. Navy on December 15, 1941. Her construction began at the Brooklyn Navy Yard one year later with asbestos being used throughout the ship. The USS Bennington was ready for launch by early 1944. The Navy stockpiled asbestos for use in shipbuilding, ship overhauling, and maintenance during World War II. The toxic material was prized for its fireproofing properties and its resistance to water, heat, and corrosion.

The USS Bennington (CV-20) History in Brief

The USS Bennington was active in the Pacific during WWII. She carried out air strikes on, Japan, the Volcano Islands, and Okinawa and supported the invasion of Okinawa. Aircraft from the USS Bennington sank the battleship Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi, and four Japanese destroyers while in the Pacific.

The aircraft carrier was damaged by a typhoon, spent a brief few weeks undergoing repair work at Leyte, and then returned to wartime activity conducting raids on Japan.

After World War II ended, the USS Bennington supported Japan’s occupation by the allied forces. Her aircraft was part of the surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. She returned to Norfolk and was decommissioned in late1946.

The USS Bennington was modernized at the Navy shipyard in New York and recommissioned with hull designation CVA-20 (attack aircraft carrier) in 1952. Her conversion was extensive. At the re-commissioning ceremony, Rear Admiral R.H. Hillenkoeter called her “the most modern carrier in our fleet today.” The USS Bennington suffered two fatal explosions on board in the two years following; an explosion in a boiler room killing 11 men and a series of explosions from a malfunctioning catapult that killed 103 men. She was repaired after the first explosion and underwent an extensive rebuild after the second explosion.

The Bennington joined the Pacific Fleet and in 1959 was re-designated as an ASW support carrier, CVS-20 (anti-submarine warfare). The USS Bennington served three tours during the Vietnam War. And in 1967, the USS Bennington recovered the Apollo 4 capsule when it splashed down. She was decommissioned in 1970, removed from the Naval Vessel Register in 1989 and was sold to an Indian ship breaking yard in 1994.

Understanding Asbestos and Its Effects

There was a pre-World War II understanding that exposure to asbestos material could lead to asbestosis. A 2011 report shows that as early as 1941 the U.S. Navy expressed concern that men working with asbestos were not being protected from the harm asbestos could cause. During WWII, protections increased as studies verified the risks. It was not until the 1960s that the Navy understood that working with asbestos in shipyards and on ships like the USS Bennington and mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases were causally related.

Asbestos on U.S. Navy Ships

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has compiled a list of how service members were exposed to asbestos, placing them at risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos related illnesses. Service members or civilians who performed any of the following tasks on the USS Bennington may have been exposed to asbestos:

  • Worked in the shipyard between 1930 and 1990
  • Renovated asbestos-containing structures and/or removed asbestos materials
  • Worked below deck where asbestos was used and the ventilation was poor
  • Removed damaged asbestos and then used asbestos material to re-wrap pipes
  • Worked with, handled, damaged or disturbed any asbestos containing material

Additionally, pipefitters, welders, boiler operators, and building renovation and demolition specialists who worked on the USS Bennington and asbestos materials in the ship are also at risk for asbestos-related illnesses.

Have Questions About the USS Bennington and Mesothelioma or Other Asbestos-Related Illnesses?

Like other ships from the World War II era, the USS Bennington was constructed with many asbestos-containing components. Anyone who served on the USS Bennington or was involved in her repair and modernization was put at risk for developing asbestos-related illnesses including the rare and deadly mesothelioma.

Shipmen who served on the USS Bennington, shipyard workers involved in her building or repair, and persons living with those who worked with asbestos material on the aircraft carrier should consult a doctor if they have any symptoms of an asbestos-related disease. Anyone who worked on or around the USS Bennington and is diagnosed with mesothelioma should also consider contacting a lawyer to find out more about his or her legal rights.

Nemeroff Law Firm is a nationwide expert law firm in mesothelioma and asbestos related personal injury claims. If you or a loved one worked on or around the USS Bennington and asbestos exposure and related illnesses are concerns, you should investigate your legal rights. The Nemeroff Law Firm has successfully represented persons who have suffered from the debilitating effects of working with asbestos. Contact us today for a consultation by telephone: 866-342-1929 or by email at

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