Asbestos Exposure on the USS Ault
Hull Number: DD-698
Class: Allen M. Sumner
Built: Kearny, NJ
The USS Ault was an Allen M. Sumner-class Destroyer built by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Kearny, NJ late in World War II. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in May of 1944, and joined the Allied fleet in the Pacific soon after.
The ship measured in at just over 376 feet in length, and carried a complement of 336 officers and enlisted men. During the Second World War, it earned five battle stars for operations conducted in the Pacific. Following the end of World War II, the Ault remained in active service, and in late 1966 was deployed to assist in the Vietnam conflict, where it earned two additional battle stars. The vessel continued to serve over the next decade, until being decommissioned in July 1973 after nearly thirty years of duty.
Navy veterans who served on the USS Ault were likely exposed to asbestos over the course of their regular duty. Until the mid-1970’s, asbestos was a common shipbuilding material, and was used in a great deal of equipment on Navy vessels.
Boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components all were generally made using asbestos, and materials such as gaskets and packing were often made entirely from asbestos. These were found in a high concentration in the boiler and engine spaces, which put Boiler Tenders, Machinist’s Mates, and others who worked in these areas at a heightened risk of asbestos exposure.
The companies who provided the Navy with these asbestos products generally knew the devastating effect asbestos could have on the health of Navy veterans, but did nothing to warn those who served on the USS Ault or other ships from this era. As a result, many veterans contracted mesothelioma, a cancer only known to be caused by asbestos.
Victims of asbestos who have served in the Navy have a right to seek compensation from the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. The costs of medical care can be offset or covered entirely by settlements, and victims may be entitled to additional sums for pain and suffering. Legal counsel should be sought soon after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis however, as the law limits the time in which a lawsuit may be filed.