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Asbestos Exposure at Washington Navy Yard

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington Navy Yard located in Washington, D.C. is the oldest shore establishment in the U.S. Navy. In July 1799, the 4,000 square miles was established by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert. In its early years, the WNY became the Navy’s largest shipbuilding and shipfitting facility.

 WNY and the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, the WNY was a vital support facility and strategic defence. The WNY sailors and marines of nearby Marine Barracks were in the last defense line. To avoid capture by the enemy, the Yard’s first commandant Commodore Thomas Tingey order it be burned.

After the War of 1812, the WNY became a leader in ordnance and technology, being deemed inaccessible for larger vessels. It possessed one of the earliest steam engines in the U.S. and manufactured anchors, chain, and steam engines for war vessels.

 WNY and the U.S. Civil War

During the U.S. Civil War, the WNY was an integral part of defense for Washington, D.C. Resigning his commission at the Yard to join the Confederacy, Commandant Franklin Buchanan left the yard to John A. Dahlgren, an acquaintance of President Abraham Lincoln. Following the assassination of President Lincoln, conspirators were brought to the WNY.


The Yard was designated as the manufacturing site for all ordnance in the Navy in 1886. Ordnance production continued and the Yard manufactured armament for the Great White Fleet and the World War I navy. The railway guns during WWI in France were manufactured there.


The Yard became the largest naval ordnance plant in the world by World War II. Until the 1960s, weapons designed and built were used in every war in which the U.S. fought. During its peak, it employed 25,000 people and contained 188 buildings on 126 acres.

Ordnance work phased out in 1961 and began use as office buildings in 1964.

WNY Today

Today, the WNY houses various activities including: headquarters of Naval District Washington, housing activities for fleet and aviation communities, the Navy Museum, the Naval History and Heritage Command, and Leutze Park.

The buildings are still used to serve the Navy.

WNY and Asbestos

Many veterans and civilians may have been exposed to asbestos on-site. Asbestos was commonly used at Navy Yards in boilers, pipes, pumps, valves, gaskets, packing, and other material. Contact an experienced attorney like those at Belluck & Fox, LLP, today for a free consultation.

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