This Essex-class Aircraft Carrier was built during the final days of World War II by the New York Naval Shipyard, and commissioned by the U.S. Navy in March of 1946. It was the third ship to bear the name USS Kearsage. Measuring 888 fore to aft, the Kearsage carried between 90 and 100 aircraft, and held a complement of 3,448 officers and men. Much of its service was spent conducting operations in Asia, earning two battle stars for its time in the Korean War. The Kearsage also was the recovery vessel for Project Mercury, the first human space flight ever taken by an American. The vessel remained in active service for nearly twenty-five years, until being decommissioned in early 1970.
Ships built between the 1930’s and 1970’s, like the USS Kearsage, used asbestos in their construction. It is therefore likely that those who served on board were exposed over the course of their regular duty. Asbestos was found in equipment including turbines, pumps, valves, boilers, and electrical components, and materials such as packing and gaskets were often made of asbestos. Much of this was located in the boiler and engine spaces of the ship, placing Firemen, Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, and others who worked in these areas at a heightened risk. While the companies who sold these asbestos products to the Navy were often aware of the dangers, they did nothing to warn veterans. This negligence resulted in thousands of preventable cases of mesothelioma amongst Navy veterans.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have a right to pursue compensation for their illness. Settlements can offset or cover the often overwhelming costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for the pain and suffering of victims and their families. Limits have been imposed on the time a lawsuit can be filed however, so it is important to seek legal counsel soon after a diagnosis is made.