This Sampson-class Destroyer was built in the midst of the First World War by the Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine. Measuring slightly over 315 feet, the USS Allen carried a complement of 99 officers and enlisted men. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in January 1917, and joined the Allied assault in the Atlantic soon after. Following the Allied victory, it was placed into the Reserve Fleet, and spent a dozen years dormant. With the outbreak of World War II, the Allen was recommissioned in August of 1940, and assigned to the Pacific Fleet. It earned a single battle star during the Second World War and was decommissioned shortly after the war’s close, in October 1945.
Navy ships built prior to the 1970’s were a common source for asbestos exposure amongst mesothelioma victims. Much of the equipment aboard the USS Allen was made using asbestos, including boilers, turbines, electrical components, pumps, and valves, and materials such as gaskets and packing were often made entirely from asbestos. The boiler and engine spaces were areas of particular concern, with tight confines and poor ventilation contributing to the high concentrations of asbestos dust found in the air below deck. The companies that provided the Navy with asbestos products were often aware of the deadly illnesses asbestos could cause, but did nothing to warn veterans who served on the USS Allen or its contemporaries. This negligent attitude caused untold numbers of sailors to fall victim to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, many of which are just now being diagnosed.
Veterans who became ill due to asbestos exposure have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can cover the overwhelming costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for the pain and suffering. Legal counsel should be sought soon after a diagnosis is made however, as the law limits the time in which a lawsuit may be filed.