Asbestos was used in the construction of virtually all U.S. Navy vessels built before the 1970s and 1980s. The brave veterans who served onboard the battleships were exposed to this toxic substance without knowing of its hazards, discovering too late that it caused their mesothelioma or other forms of cancer.
Aircraft carriers were built for the U.S. Navy after World War I. Their primary mission is to deploy and recover military aircraft as floating airbases. By the time World War II began, aircraft carriers had replaced battleships as the principal ships in the fleet. The brave veterans who served onboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers included Navy sailors, naval aviators, and Marine detachments to man the aircraft.
Battleships in the United States Navy have been traditionally named after U.S. States. Though they were once the principal ships of the naval fleet, aircraft carriers took over that role by the time World War II began. Unfortunately for the brave veterans who served on the battleships on all sides of the war, they were extremely susceptible to aerial attack. World War II used battleships primarily for shore bombardment and carrier escorts.
Until the 1950s, U.S. Navy cruisers were specifically designed to be larger than a destroyer and smaller than a battleship. Historically, they have been named after U.S. and international cities. Both heavy cruisers and light cruisers – differentiated by the size of their guns by the London Naval Treaty in 1930 – were used in World War II to attack enemy merchant ships and serve with the battle fleet. U.S. Navy veterans who served onboard cruisers provided support service during many aircraft carrier operations.
Destroyers have served the U.S. Navy for many years, protecting larger vessels from torpedo boats, submarines, and aircraft. Many destroyers, historically named after prominent Navy officers, were fitted out with new antiaircraft and antisubmarine warfare equipment during World War II. Many of the U.S. Navy destroyers that WWII veterans served on were converted into guided missile destroyers in the decades that followed.
Submarines gained wide use in World War I, but it was in World War II that U.S. Navy submarines really proved their worth. These underwater vessels, historically named after types of fish, destroyed more Japanese vessels in WWII than all other weapons combined. The brave veterans who served aboard U.S. Navy submarines fired countless torpedoes at the enemy, but their own casualties were high when the enemies caught them underwater.