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Asbestos Exposure on the USS Caldwell (DD-605)


Hull Number: DD-605
Type: Destroyer
Class: Benson
Built: San Francisco, CA

The USS Caldwell was a Benson-class Destroyer built by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at their Can Francisco, CA shipyard during the height of the Second World War. The ship measured over 348 feet fore-to-aft, and carried a complement of 276 officers and men aboard.

After it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in June of 1942, the ship was assigned duty in the Alaskan Pacific, joining with a convoy of ships scouting for potential enemy threats. It went on to conduct operations throughout the Pacific, earning eight battle stars over the course of the war. After the Japanese forces surrendered, ending the war, the Caldwell spent a short time as a convoy escort before being decommissioned in April of 1946.

Navy veterans who were assigned to the USS Caldwell are likely to have been exposed to asbestos over the course of their regular duty. Prior to the mid-1970’s, asbestos was a common material on Navy ships, found in equipment such as boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, and electrical components. Additionally, materials including gaskets and packing were made from asbestos.

The engine and boiler spaces, poorly ventilated and confined areas, held an especially high concentration of asbestos. This combination exposed Machinist’s Mates, Boiler Tenders, and others who worked primarily in these areas to high levels of asbestos daily. The companies who provided the Navy with these asbestos products typically knew that asbestos exposure could lead to mesothelioma and other illnesses, but did nothing to warn those serving aboard the USS Caldwell and other, similar ships. This negligence caused the instances of mesothelioma amongst Navy veterans to be significantly more frequent than in the general population.

Victims who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have a right to seek compensation. Settlements can often cover the costs of medical care, and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering. The time during which a lawsuit may be filed is limited however, so it is important to seek counsel soon after a mesothelioma diagnosis is made.

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