USS Alfred A. Cunningham
|Class:||Allen M. Sumner|
|Built:||Staten Island, NY|
The USS Alfred A. Cunningham was an Allen M. Sumner-class Destroyer commissioned by the U.S. Navy in November of 1944. Built during World War II by Bethlehem Steel in Staten Island, NY, the vessel measured just over 376 feet fore-to-aft, and held a complement of 336 officers and men. It was a member of the Pacific Fleet during the war, earning one battle star for its service. Following the Allied victory, the ship conducted operations in the Korean War for which it earned six battle stars, and the conflict in Vietnam, where it earned seven. It served for nearly thirty years, and was decommissioned in February 1971.
Veterans who served aboard the USS Alfred A. Cunningham were likely exposed to asbestos during the course of their regular duty. U.S. Navy ships built prior to the 1970’s used asbestos in much of the equipment on board, including boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components. Materials including gaskets and packing were also often made from asbestos. Many of these asbestos products were concentrated in the boiler and engine spaces, putting Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, Firemen, and others who worked in these areas in particularly dangerous working conditions. The companies who manufactured these asbestos products were often aware of the diseases asbestos could cause, but did nothing to warn the veterans serving on the USS Alfred A. Cunningham and other ships from the era. This negligence led many Navy veterans to develop deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Victims of asbestos who served in the U.S. Navy have a right to seek compensation, and will not sacrifice their VA benefits by doing so. Settlements can offset or cover the overwhelming costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the time in which a lawsuit may be filed however, so it is important to seek legal counsel soon after a diagnosis is made.