Written By: Camryn Keeble

Asbestos on Navy Submarines

The United States Navy operates a stealth fleet of submarines. These boats were designed to complete strategic underwater operations. Submarines are an important part of the naval fleet, providing strategic capabilities for missions around the world, and they continue to play a critical role in modern naval warfare. Unfortunately, U.S. Navy submarines were built with asbestos, a toxic and cancer-causing material.

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos on Navy Submarines 

From the depths of the ocean, the U.S. Navy’s submarines have long played a vital role in the nation’s military strategy. These stealthy and powerful underwater vessels have been integral to various wartime operations, striking fear into the hearts of adversaries and providing critical intelligence. However, submarines were built with asbestos, which has led to severe health issues for many Navy veterans

Asbestos is known to cause different types of cancer, but it is the only known cause of the rare cancer mesothelioma. Navy submarines were built with asbestos because of its durability and heat resistance, which made it a suitable material for building bulkheads and decks. Asbestos can also be found in the engine room, steam system, main engines, pipe lagging, HPACs, ductwork, gaskets, valve packing materials and other Navy ship components. 

Because so many submarine components and equipment contained asbestos, military asbestos exposure was very common for submariners. If you are a Navy veteran and served on a submarine, you may have been exposed to asbestos on your boat. Contact our VA-Accredited Claims Agent, retired LCDR Carl Jewett, to find out more information or for assistance filing your VA claim.

History of Navy Submarines 

During World War II, the U.S. Navy rapidly expanded its submarine fleet, recognizing the potential of these vessels as strategic assets. While the U.S. had a relatively small submarine force at the beginning of the war, it quickly grew to include several classes of submarines, including the Balao, Tench and Gato classes. These submarines served primarily in the Pacific theater, where they wreaked havoc on Japanese shipping and disrupted supply lines.

The Silent Service, as the submarine force was known, was incredibly effective and played a significant role in the outcome of the war. U.S. submarines accounted for around 55% of all Japanese shipping losses during the conflict, which contributed to the eventual collapse of the Japanese war machine. The experiences and tactics developed during World War II laid the foundation for the future of U.S. submarine warfare.

With the onset of the Cold War and the Korean War, U.S. submarines transitioned from their primary role as offensive weapons to a focus on intelligence gathering, surveillance and deterrence. As tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union escalated, the importance of submarines in maintaining the balance of power became increasingly apparent.

In addition to their intelligence and special operations roles, submarines were also used to enforce naval blockades and interdict enemy shipping during the Vietnam War. U.S. submarines patrolled the waters off the coast of North Vietnam, searching for vessels attempting to supply the enemy with arms and equipment. By intercepting and inspecting these vessels, the submarines helped to stem the flow of supplies to North Vietnam, putting pressure on the enemy’s war effort.

As modern warfare continues to evolve, submarines remain an essential component of the United States’ naval strategy. With their stealth, endurance, and versatility, the silent service will continue to safeguard national interests and project power around the globe for years to come.

Sources & Author

  1. USS Daniel Boone SSBN-629. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1295774. Accessed: 09/05/2023.
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About the Writer, Camryn Keeble

Camryn Keeble is the senior content writer and editor for Mesothelioma Guide. She creates informative content to educate mesothelioma patients and their loved ones on news, treatments and more. She also works diligently to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure and the effects of mesothelioma.