Originally designated as the Wilmington, the USS Cabot was an Independence class Aircraft Carrier built by the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, NJ during the Second World War. Stretching 622.5 feet fore to aft, the Cabot held a complement of 1,569 officers and men. The vessel was commissioned in July 1943 and, though briefly decommissioned after WWII, remained in active U.S. Navy service until 1955. During its time in World War II, the Cabot earned nine battle stars, and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism against the enemy. After a post-war period in the Naval Air Reserve training program, the ship was transferred to the Spanish Navy in 1967, and was not returned to the United States until 1989. Despite its designation as a national landmark and great efforts to preserve it, the Cabot was scrapped in 2002.
Those who served on the USS Cabot likely faced asbestos exposure throughout the course of their typical daily routine. Equipment such as boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, electrical components used the substance for its strength and resistance to heat and electricity, as did materials such as gaskets and packing. Those tasked with repairing and maintaining this equipment often had to cut, sand, or grind the asbestos, creating an asbestos dust that contaminated the air. Veterans who worked in the boiler and engine spaces are at an especially high risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illness, due to the limited ventilation and tight quarters. The companies who made this asbestos equipment were often aware of the harm it caused, but did nothing to minimize it or protect the sailors working with their products.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma were likely exposed to asbestos during their service, by no fault of their own. Victims of asbestos who have spent time in the Navy have the right to seek compensation for their suffering, and do not risk losing their VA benefits by pursuing a claim. Settlements can provide compensation for pain and suffering, and cover the overwhelming costs of medical treatment. It is important, however, that one seek legal counsel soon after a diagnosis, as the law limits the time one can take action.