Located in Oakland, California, the Rough & Ready Island Ship Repair business has had a storied history. During World War II the company was used as a supply depository and repair facility for the US Navy’s massive fleet. Their ability to repair ships quickly and efficiently won them many contracts during the war.
At the conclusion of the conflict, the Navy deemed that it no longer needed the facility to operate at full capacity. This allowed for the Navy to contract out to private companies to use their base’s resources. Other ship repair companies took advantage of the space and conducted their own naval repair operations. After years of exclusive work with the military, these contractors began taking on commercial repair tasks. During the period leading up to the 1980s, many of the ships being serviced contained asbestos.
When these workers removed piping and repaired ships they would inhale dust from the material. After prolonged periods of exposure a person can accumulate massive amounts of asbestos inside their bodies. When inhaled, the lungs deposit the material into the cavities surrounding essential organs. The dust then becomes part of the membranes that protect the organs. Since there is no method the body can use to get rid of it, the particle begins to damage surrounding cells. Years after ship repair workers at the Rough & Ready Island Ship Repair last had contact with asbestos, they might start developing symptoms.
Oftentimes these workers assume that their cough or chest pain is associated with a common illness or aging. Not directly connecting their prior work around such a dangerous material can lead to problems being misdiagnosed. This shipyard is not alone, however, in how its employees were exposed. Across the country, asbestos was widely used as a cheap solution to ship building needs. Possibly hundreds of thousands of shipbuilders were exposed to it up until the 1980s with no protection at all.
The danger of Mesothelioma is that it is extremely hard to diagnose if a Doctor is unaware of previous exposure. Patients that inform their physicians have a far better chance of being diagnosed early and receiving the necessary treatments that will increase their longevity.