USS Lexington (CV-16)
Bethlehem Steel’s Fore River Shipyard built this Essex-class Aircraft Carrier for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Commissioned in February of 1943, the ship was named in honor of the previous ship USS Lexington (CV-2), which had been sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea the previous year. The newer Lexington measures 872 feet in overall length, and carried 110 aircraft and a complement of 2,600 officers and men. It was a very active participant in the Pacific Theater, conducting multiple operations on this front. The Lexington received eleven battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation for exceptional bravery against the enemy. It remained in active service for almost five full decades, and was decommissioned in 1991. It is currently a museum ship, located in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Tragically, it is likely that veterans who served aboard the USS Lexington were exposed to asbestos over 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 from asbestos. These items were found in an especially high concentration in the boiler and engine spaces, putting sailors who worked in those areas at additional risk. The companies who provided the Navy with this asbestos equipment were often aware of the health risks of asbestos, but did nothing to warn those serving on board the USS Lexington or its contemporaries. This negligence led to many veterans developing mesothelioma years after their Navy careers had ended.
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma were likely exposed to asbestos during their time in the Navy, and 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 diagnosis is made however, as the law limits the time during which a lawsuit can be filed.