Asbestos Exposure on the USS Barton (DD-722)
Hull Number: DD-722
Class: Allen M. Sumner
Built: Bath, ME
The USS Barton was an Allen M. Sumner-class Destroyer built by the Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in December of 1943, and soon assigned to the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet, with early missions in support of the Allied invasion of Normandy.
The ship then moved into the Pacific for the final years of World War II, as part of the attack fleet on Iwo Jima, Honshu, Okinawa, and the Japanese mainland, earning six battle stars in total. Following the Allied victory in the war, the ship became involved in the Korean war, where it picked up two additional battle stars. The ship was decommissioned in September 1968 after necessary repairs were not deemed economically viable.
Sailors who served on the USS Barton were likely exposed to asbestos during their time aboard the ship. Navy vessels built between the 1930’s and mid-1970’s used a significant amount of equipment made with asbestos, including boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components.
Materials such as gaskets and packing were also often made entirely from asbestos. Especially at risk were those veterans who worked in the engine and boiler spaces, as these areas typically held the highest concentrations of asbestos.
This exposed Boiler Tenders, Firemen, and others stationed in these areas on a daily basis. While the companies that provided the Navy with these asbestos products were often aware of the threat asbestos posed, they did nothing to warn those who served on the USS Barton and other ships from its era. This resulted in incidences of mesothelioma amongst Navy veterans at a rate far above that of the general population.
Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can offset or even fully cover the costs of medical care, and may also provide additional sums for pain and suffering. The law limits the time victims have to file a lawsuit however, so it is important to seek legal counsel soon after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.