Boatswain’s Mates (BM), as well as Quartermasters (QM), Sonar men (SO), Radar men (RD), Electronics Technicians (ET), Radiomen (RM), Yeomen (YN), Personnel men (PN), Storekeepers (SK), Disbursing Clerks (DK), and Ship’s Servicemen (SH), were all exposed to asbestos as they carried out their shipboard duties and while living in the confined and closed shipboard environment.
All of the crew intermingled during recreation periods, ate together, slept in the same berthing spaces, and were served by a common laundry facility. As a result they all were exposed to the industrial activities going on throughout the ship, including in spaces of which they had little knowledge or concern, where asbestos dust was generated and carried into common spaces.
Boatswain’s Mates, Quartermasters, Sonar men, Radar men, Electronics Technicians, Radiomen, Yeomen, Personnel men, Storekeepers, Disbursing Clerks and Ship’s Servicemen all remain at risk of contracting an asbestos-related cancer, including mesothelioma, as a result of their shipboard exposure to asbestos.
Principal Locations of Shipboard Service
Boatswain’s Mates, Quartermasters, Sonar men, Radar men, Electronics Technicians, Radiomen, Yeomen, Personnel men, Storekeepers, Disbursing Clerks and Ship’s Servicemen were typically assigned to the non-engineering spaces for training, watch-standing, and maintenance duties. This included spaces such as weather decks and “top-side” spaces, administrative offices, combat systems/weapons spaces, and operational spaces such as the bridge and Combat Information Center (CIC). They also spent time in the ship’s public spaces, such as the galley, berthing areas, lounges and recreational areas.
Primary Shipboard Activities
Individuals of these ratings were assigned to one of several of the ship’s departments, such as Deck, Operations, Administration, Weapons, and Supply. Upon assignment to his specific department, the crew member was assigned to one of several divisions depending upon his specific training, experience and rating. Regardless of the specific division to which he was assigned, his responsibilities would be similar, and included the following types of activities.
As a junior member of a ship’s department, he supervised the cleanliness of his assigned spaces and the associated berthing compartments. He also was assigned to various maintenance and repair efforts for on-the-job training, and was gradually assigned more independent responsibilities with growing experience. This included all manner of activities, such as repairing divisional equipment and systems.
He also was assigned a series of watch-standing duties wherein he continued to learn the start-up, operation, shutdown and emergency procedures associated with the various pieces of equipment throughout his assigned spaces. His initial watch-standing duties were simple and well-supervised, but over time he was expected to become sufficiently proficient in the various junior watch stations so that he would be designated as “qualified” on that station. Finally, in conjunction with performing both his divisional and watch-standing duties he was learning the technical and organizational aspects of his chosen rating necessary for advancement.
Exposure to Asbestos
Boatswain’s Mates, Quartermasters, Sonar men, Radar men, Electronics Technicians, Radiomen, Yeomen, Personnel men, Storekeepers, Disbursing Clerks and Ship’s Servicemen experienced direct exposure to asbestos dust while involved in the routine housekeeping activities of their assigned division. Hot water and steam-heating piping extended throughout the ship, and traversed the operational and berthing spaces for which they were assigned cleanliness responsibilities. Shipboard piping systems typically utilized portable removable asbestos pads for insulation over valves and other components subject to periodic maintenance and repair access. This was true for the spaces of their divisions and also for the recreational and berthing areas to which they were assigned. These crewmen came into contact with the asbestos debris where insulation had been disturbed, either through the normal conduct of personnel traffic and activity, being bumped or damaged during some incident or proximate repair work, or the physical shock from ship’s motion while in heavy seas or during gunfire actions.
In addition, even if not directly involved with asbestos-dust-generating events, the fact that the ship was a closed environment with the presence of a large number of crewmen performing many activities in a confined space meant they were exposed to asbestos dust generated by the activities of others.
All of the crew spent time down time as well as work time in a closed environment, and as a result, they were all exposed to the asbestos dust generated by the daily shipboard activities of their community.