|Built:||Newport News, VA|
One of 24 Essex-class Aircraft Carriers built for the U.S. Navy, the USS Boxer was constructed by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Virginia, and was the fifth ship to bear the name. It was commissioned in April 1945, and remained in active service until 1969. Though it was completed too late to serve in World War II, the vessel saw a great deal of action in the Korean War, receiving eight battle stars over the course of the conflict. At 888 feet bow to stern, the Boxer was one of the largest ships built during World War II, and carried a complement of 3,448 officers and men. The Boxer was reclassified twice in the length of its service; once as an Attack Carrier, then again as an Amphibious Assault Ship, though it was given no major modernization in either case.
Large Navy ships built during this period were a major source for asbestos exposure. Much of the equipment aboard the USS Boxer utilized the substance, including boilers, turbines, electrical components, pumps, and valves, as did materials such as gaskets and packing. The boiler and engine spaces were particularly dangerous areas, with tight confines and poor ventilation contributing to the high concentrations of asbestos fibers found in the air below deck. The companies that provided the Navy with these contaminated products were often aware of the high toxicity of asbestos, but chose to withhold this knowledge from those who would be operating and maintaining them. This clearly negligent behavior is responsible for countless cases of mesothelioma and other serious, asbestos-related illnesses, some of which are just now being diagnosed.
Veterans who became ill due to asbestos exposure have a right to seek compensation, with no fear of losing their VA benefits. Victims should seek legal counsel as soon as possible following a diagnosis, due to laws limiting the time one can pursue legal action.