USS Lake Champlain
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard of Portsmouth, VA built this Essex-class Aircraft Carrier toward the end of World War II. Commissioned by the U.S. Navy in June of 1945, it entered active duty too late to fight in any battles of the Second World War. However, the ship did participate in Operation Magic Carpet, ferrying overseas troops back to American soil. It measured at 888 feet in length, and carried a complement of 3,448 officers and men and between 90 and 100 aircraft. Known as one of the fastest ships in the fleet, the USS Lake Champlain set a speed record during Operation Magic Carpet that would not be broken for nearly a decade. The vessel fought in the Korean War and was active in space missions, recovering the ships used in both Project Mercury and Project Gemini. After over twenty years at sea, the Lake Champlain was decommissioned in 1966.
Asbestos was a common material on ships built during the era of the USS Lake Champlain. A great deal of equipment used on the ship was made using asbestos, including turbines, pumps, valves, electrical components, and boilers. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also made from asbestos. This asbestos equipment was largely found in the engine and boiler spaces, leaving Firemen, Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, and others who worked in these areas at especially high risk. The companies who provided the Navy with this asbestos equipment were often aware of the health hazards it posed, but did nothing to warn those who served on the USS Lake Champlain or its contemporaries. This negligence led to many thousands of cases of mesothelioma, the only known cause of which is exposure to asbestos.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused illnesses were likely exposed during the course of their regular duty, and have the right to pursue compensation. Settlements can offset or cover the high costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for the suffering of victims and their families. It is important to seek legal counsel soon after receiving a diagnosis however, as the law limits the time in which a lawsuit can be filed.