Asbestos Exposure on the USS Aaron Ward (DD-773)
Hull Number: DD-773
Class: Robert H. Smith
Built: San Pedro, CA
The USS Aaron Ward was a Robert H. Smith-class Destroyer Minelayer built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation. Though originally laid down as an Allen M. Sumner-class Destroyer, the Aaron Ward was modified after completion and commissioned by the U.S. Navy in October of 1944.
Stretching 376 feet bow-to-stern, the ship carried a complement of 363 officers and men. It was named for the previous Destroyer of the same name (DD-483), which had been sunk the previous year during Operation I-Go.
The vessel earned a single battle star during its time in World War II’s Pacific Theater and received a Presidential Unit Citation for exceptional bravery against the enemy. Despite surviving the war, the Aaron Ward had sustained heavy damage in battle, and was decommissioned in September of 1945.
Veterans who spent time aboard the USS Aaron Ward were most likely exposed to asbestos during their typical course of duty. Shipbuilders used asbestos in a great deal of equipment prior to the mid-1970’s, such as boilers, turbines, pumps, and valves.
Several materials found on ships were also made from the substance, including gaskets and packing. These asbestos components were found in particularly high concentrations in the engine and boiler spaces, increasing the health risk for Machinist’s Mates, Boiler Tenders, and others who worked in these areas.
Although the businesses that made these asbestos products were often aware of the threat asbestos posed, nothing was done to warn those who served aboard the USS Aaron Ward or similar ships. As a result, many veterans contracted the deadly and aggressive cancer mesothelioma.
Victims of these asbestos manufacturers have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can potentially cover the costs of medical care, and may be able to 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 diagnosis is received.