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Asbestos Found on Naval Ships? More Common Than You Might Realize

Asbestos is a harmful material that was used for fireproofing and insulation. On naval vessels, especially those in service during World War II, asbestos could be found in:

  • Gaskets
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Boilers
  • Turbines
  • Generators
  • Motors

Exposure to asbestos on naval ships has led to mesothelioma, a cancerous lung tumor. Shipyard workers, pipefitters, electricians, and mechanics are just a small group of naval personnel that could have been exposed to lethal amounts of asbestos.

Coast Guard Electrician Rodney Thaut’s Story

Rodney Thaut and his wife Kathryn Thaut sued A.O. Smith Water Products in New York after Rodney was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009. Thaut was a Coast Guard ship electrician, and part of his job was to help maintain numerous ship valves, pumps, and motors.

Asbestos Was Everywhere

As mentioned above, asbestos was used as an insulator, and Thaut reported that many of the ship’s valves were actually wrapped in insulated blankets that contained asbestos. Asbestos is most dangerous when its fibers—called fibrils—are released and allowed to circulate in the air, where they can be inhaled into a person’s lungs.

Thaut’s Work

To service the ship’s pumps and valves, the asbestos-containing insulation first had to be removed. The gaskets that the insulating material covered had become dried out and brittle after decades of service, and the asbestos-containing material would stick to the pumps and gaskets that it covered.

The preferred way to remove the asbestos-containing insulation was to use a wire brush. This method created a perfect storm as the brushing released fibrils into the air. Even if Thaut was not personally cleaning a gasket or pump, he was in close proximity to someone who was, and that was enough to be exposed to a serious dose of mesothelioma-causing asbestos.

Boiler Room Exposure

Thaut was also present in boiler rooms where another series of pumps had to be worked on. These pumps would be connected to the boilers, so all of the protective asbestos-containing insulation had to be removed in order to get to the pumps themselves. Again, even though Thaut may not have worked on the boilers himself, he was in the boiler room while dangerous insulation was being removed, and Thaut was therefore exposed to illness-causing asbestos fibrils.

Court Proceedings

The defendant asbestos company’s lawyers attempted to dismiss Thaut’s original complaint, and the case went to the New York Supreme Court, where the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was denied. This meant that the case could proceed through the legal system.

Many Naval Veterans Affected

The Environmental Working Group says that at least 40,000 naval veterans have already died of illnesses related to asbestos fibril inhalation. This is a significant figure, and if you have been personally affected or know someone who has been sickened by naval service-related asbestos exposure, you need to get help from a qualified attorney. The Throneberry Law Group is a law firm that helps those with asbestos-exposure issues. Call 1-888-506-1131 today to speak with a qualified representative about your or your loved one’s asbestos issues.

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During one of my family's darkest and trying times, Michael Throneberry was there to provide help. His personal experience with mesothelioma made certain that he advised us like family. Thank you, you are wonderful. Do yourself a favor and let him help you during this trying time. He is a true 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. T.S.
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