USS Langley (CV-1)
The USS Langley was the first Aircraft Carrier operated by the U.S. Navy, converted from the cargo ship USS Jupiter. Commissioned in April 1913 and converted in 1920, the Langley is also remarkable for being the first ship in the Navy’s fleet to use electric propulsion. The vessel was built by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, CA, and measured 542 feet in length. Carrying a complement of 468 officers and men and 36 aircraft, the ship was converted to a Seaplane Tender before entering into service in World War II. The vessel was badly damaged by the Japanese on February 27, 1942, and was sunk by its escorting Destroyers to avoid this ship falling into enemy hands. It was struck from the Naval Vessel registry in May 1942.
Considering the era in which it was built, the crew of the USS Langley was likely exposed to asbestos during the course of regular duty. U.S. Navy ships built between the 1930’s and 1970’s regularly used asbestos in much of the onboard equipment, including boilers, valves, turbines, pumps, and electrical components. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often made from asbestos. The boiler and engine spaces contained much of this equipment, putting Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, Firemen, and others who worked in these areas at an elevated risk. Most of the companies that provided the Navy with these asbestos products were aware of the health risks they posed, but did nothing to warn those serving on the USS Langley and its contemporaries. Many veterans developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses as a direct result of this negligence.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can help cover the often overwhelming costs of health care, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the amount of time in which a lawsuit can be filed however, so it is important to seek legal counsel soon after a diagnosis is made.