|Type:||Light Aircraft Carrier|
The USS Bataan was an Independence-class light aircraft carrier commissioned by the U.S. Navy in November, 1943. Though originally set to be named the USS Buffalo, the ship was renamed for a Philippine province where U.S. and Filipino forces clashed with the Japanese. Built by the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, NJ, the Bataan carried 156 officers and a crew of 1,372 men, as well as 33 aircraft. While it entered the war at a relatively late hour, the Bataan managed to receive six battle stars for service against Japan in the Pacific Theater, as well as an additional five for her later role in the Korean War. The ship was decommissioned in 1954, and sold for scrap in 1961.
Asbestos exposure is very likely for veterans who served aboard the USS Bataan. Navy ships built between the 1930’s and 1970’s often made use of asbestos in engine and boiler spaces, in equipment such as boilers, valves, turbines, and electrical components, as well as gaskets and packing. The companies who built these components were aware of the toxic nature of asbestos, but tragically chose to keep quiet about the threat it posed. The poorly ventilated air and tight confines of the ship created an environment with high concentrations of airborne asbestos fibers, which posed a tangible risk for veterans who served on board. Individuals who have spent time in environments contaminated with airborne asbestos fibers are susceptible to the deadly, preventable cancer mesothelioma. Machinist Mates, Boiler Tenders, Electricians, and other Navy veterans are at especially high risk of developing the disease, which most commonly affects the lining of the lungs.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma were likely exposed to asbestos in the line of duty, and have the right to pursue legal action. VA benefits will not be affected, and settlements can cover the overwhelming cost of medical bills and compensate for the suffering of victims and their families. Following a diagnosis, victims should seek legal counsel as soon as possible, as the time period during which a suit can be pursued is limited.