The USS Black was constructed by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Kearny, NJ in the midst of the Second World War. The ship, commissioned by the U.S. Navy in May of 1943, measured just over 376 feet in length and carried a complement of 329 officers and men. Operating out of Pearl Harbor, the Black was active in several important operations during World War II, including the Saipan invasion, the capture of Guam, and the Leyte operation. It received six battle stars for its duty in the war, and was temporarily decommissioned after the war’s end. In July of 1951, it was returned to active service, and spent a brief span in the Caribbean prior to being assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Here, the USS Black conducted antisubmarine exercises as it patrolled Asian waters, including service in Vietnam and Korea. It earned two additional battle stars for its missions in Korea, and was decommissioned in September 1969.
Exposure to asbestos was very common for sailors who served aboard the USS Black and other ships of the time. Until the mid-1970’s, asbestos was widely used on most Navy ships, and could be found in equipment such as boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often made entirely from asbestos. The boiler and engine spaces held an especially high concentration of these asbestos products, placing Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, and others who worked in these areas in daily contact with asbestos. The companies who provided the Navy with this asbestos were typically aware of the harmful health effects of asbestos, but chose to not warn the Navy veterans who served aboard the USS Black or other ships from the era.
Victims of asbestos who served in the Navy have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can offset or entirely cover the high costs of medical care associated with mesothelioma, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the time in which a lawsuit can be filed however, so it is important to seek legal counsel soon after a mesothelioma diagnosis is made.