The USS Ballard, commissioned by the U.S. Navy in June of 1919, was a Clemson-class Destroyer built by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at their Squantum, MA shipyard. Stretching just over 314 from bow to stern, the vessel carried a complement of 130 officers and enlisted men. Its earliest days of active duty were spent sailing with the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, with a brief run in the Pacific before being placed in reserve. In 1940, just prior to the United States’ involvement in World War II, it was converted to a Seaplane Tender and placed back into active duty, sailing this time with the Pacific Fleet. The ship earned two battle stars during the war, and was decommissioned shortly after its end, in January 1946.
Many Navy veterans who served aboard the USS Ballard were exposed to asbestos during the course of their regular duty. Until the mid-1970’s, asbestos was a common material used in shipbuilding, especially amongst Navy ships. Asbestos could be found in equipment such as boilers, turbines, valves, pumps, and electrical components, while materials including gaskets and packing were also often made entirely from asbestos. These items were found in an especially high concentration in the boiler and engine spaces, putting those stationed in the areas at additional risk. The companies who provided the Navy with this asbestos equipment often knew that asbestos could lead to significant health problems, but did nothing to warn those serving on board the USS Ballard or its contemporaries. This negligence led to many veterans developing mesothelioma decades after their exposure.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can offset or cover the often overwhelming costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering endured. It is important to seek legal counsel soon after a mesothelioma diagnosis is made however, as the law limits the time during which a lawsuit can be filed.