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Asbestos Exposure on the USS Lexington (CV-2)

USS Lexington (CV-2)

Hull Number: CV-2
Type: Aircraft Carrier
Class: Lexington
Built: Quincy, MA

The Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company of Quincy, MA built this vessel for the U.S. Navy in the early 1920’s. Originally designed as a Battlecruiser, the USS Lexington was converted into one of the first Aircraft Carriers in the American fleet between 1922 and 1925, and commissioned in December of 1927.

Sometimes known as the “Gray Lady,” the Lexington was the fourth ship to bear the name, and the lead ship in its class. The vessel stretched 888 feet in length, carried a complement of 2,122 officers and men, and held 91 aircraft.

During World War II, the Lexington conducted operations in the Pacific Theater, receiving two battle stars. It was heavily damaged by Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8th, 1942, and was sunk by the USS Phelps to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. The ship was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 24th, 1942.

Prior to the mid-1970’s, asbestos was a common shipbuilding material used by the U.S. Navy, and was found in components on nearly every ship in the fleet. Equipment such as turbines, pumps, boilers, valves, and electrical components used asbestos in their design, and materials such as gaskets and packing were often made from asbestos.

Much of this was located in the engine and boiler spaces, leaving Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, Firemen, and others who worked in these areas at a higher risk of exposure. Though often aware of the health risks asbestos posed, many of the companies who sold these asbestos products to the Navy did nothing to warn those serving aboard the USS Lexington and other ships. This negligent attitude led many veterans to develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses later in life.

Victims of asbestos who served in the Navy are entitled to seek compensation. The costs of battling asbestos-caused diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, can be overwhelming. Settlements can offset or cover these medical bills, and often provide additional sums for pain and suffering. It is important for victims to seek legal counsel quickly however, as the law limits the time in which a lawsuit can be filed.

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