This Wickes-class Destroyer was built in Philadelphia, PA by William Cramps and Sons during the end of the First World War. It measured nearly 315 feet in length, and carried a complement of 122 officers and men. Commissioned by the U.S. Navy in February of 1919, the ship spent three years in active service before being decommissioned. It was brought back into active duty in twice, and in September of 1939 was assigned to the Atlantic Squadron to patrol the coastline. It earned one battle star for its service and was decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, in December 1945.
Ships built prior to the mid-1970’s commonly used asbestos in their construction, placing Navy veterans who served aboard the USS Breckenridge at a high risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos could be found in much of the equipment carried on board, including boilers, turbines, valves, pumps, and electrical components. Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often made entirely from 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 constant contact with friable and airborne asbestos. The companies who sold this asbestos to the U.S. Navy were typically aware that the substance could cause mesothelioma and other diseases, but did nothing to warn the veterans who would be working with it.
Victims of asbestos exposure have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can offset or even cover the often overwhelming costs of medical care, and victims may be entitled to additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the amount of time in which a lawsuit may be filed, so it is important to contact legal representation as soon as possible following a mesothelioma diagnosis.