USS Independence (CV-62)
This Forrestal-class Aircraft Carrier was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in January of 1959, and was the fifth ship to bear its name. Stretching 1,070 feet bow-to-stern, the USS Independence carried a complement of over 5,000 men aboard, and held between 70 and 90 aircraft. It conducted operations in Vietnam and the Middle East over its long career, and was decommissioned in 1998 after almost four decades of active service.
Ships built between the 1930’s and 1970’s commonly used asbestos in their construction, placing those who served aboard the USS Independence at a high risk of exposure. Asbestos could be found in equipment such as boilers, turbines, valves, pumps, and electrical components. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often made of asbestos. A high concentration of these items were located in the engine and boiler spaces of ships, putting Machinist’s Mates, Boiler Tenders, Firemen, and others who worked in these areas in the most danger. The companies who sold this asbestos to the U.S. Navy were typically aware of the threat it posed, but did nothing to warn the veterans who would be working with it. This led to many veterans developing mesothelioma later in life; a disease only known to be caused by asbestos.
Victims of asbestos exposure have a right to seek compensation. Those diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases can have the often overwhelming costs of medical care covered by settlements, and may be entitled to additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the amount of time a lawsuit can be filed, so it is important that victims contact legal representation as soon as possible following a diagnosis.