Cargo Ships and Asbestos

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Ever since the advent of ocean travel, the world economy has been connected by shipping routes. From clothes to computers, goods are manufactured in far off continents and travel through a relay of cargo ships, warehouses, and delivery trucks until they find their way to the impeccably-cleaned display shelves of the neighborhood store. Unfortunately, because the method of transporting these goods has changed little in the past century, many older cargo ships are still in circulation. These cargo ships, particularly those built and operated prior to World War II, could be insulated with asbestos and dangerous to those on board.

Cargo Ships in the U.S. Navy

The cargo ship, also known as a freighter, is classified as a boat that transports goods from port to port. Every day thousands of cargo ships journey across the world, sustaining the world economy like financial capillaries connected to coastal organs. Cargo ships were also highly instrumental during periods of war, as they helped ship vital supplies and military goods to troops stationed all around the world. In World War II, a minimum of 15 cargo ships served the country, including the USS Capricornus and the USS Suffolk. The USS Capricornus delivered much needed supplies to the naval vessels in the Pacific, while the USS Suffolk transported troops and cargo near Japan and China.

Asbestos Exposure

Regrettably, studies later discovered that many wartime cargo ships, including the USS Capricornus, the USS Mars, and the USS Skagit, were insulated with asbestos. As the symptoms of asbestos exposure often don’t arise for decades, many who served on these ships may still be unaware of the effects. It is highly recommended that those individuals who served on these and other World War II cargo ships undergo a thorough examination, as they may be at a increased risk for developing a variety of asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Whether it is during war or peace, cargo ships have been an essential part of our nation’s defense and economy. However, in our thirst for innovation, society was often blind to the consequences that came with developing these industrial wonders. From excess pollution to toxic waste to asbestos insulation, it behooves both the government and those in industry to educate, assist, and compensate the valiant workers and servicemen who were exposed.


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