History of Gulf Shipbuilding

The Gulf Shipbuilding site was originally known as the Chickasaw Shipbuilding and Car Company, established by U.S. Steel in 1917. The Gulf Shipbuilding shipyard was located on the Big Bayou Canal in Chickasaw, Alabama. The proximity of the Gulf Shipbuilding shipyard to a number of major waterways and the Gulf of Mexico ensured access and demand for its services. The original Chickasaw shipyard was built as a World War I emergency yard and built 14 ships during its first few years. After the war, the Chickasaw Shipbuilding yard closed.

In 1940, the shipyard site was reopened by Waterman Steamship Lines as Gulf Shipbuilding. Gulf Shipbuilding played a leading role in ship production for the U.S. Navy in World War II. The Gulf Shipbuilding shipyard was contracted by the Navy for the construction of 2100 ton Fletcher class destroyers and provided Gulf Shipbuilding with over $5 million dollars to update and expand its facility. During its peak in wartime operations, Gulf Shipbuilding employed nearly 15,000 shipyard workers to meet its production demand.   

During its years of activity, Gulf Shipbuilding built a number of ships including cargo ships, minesweepers, destroyers, offshore vessels, and tugs. Gulf Shipbuilding was closed after World War II because of decreased demand for ship production. The Gulf Shipbuilding shipyard site was temporarily opened by Halter Marine in 1979, but closed in 1983. The former Gulf Shipbuilding site now serves as a general cargo terminal.

  Asbestos & Gulf Shipbuilding

During its years of operation, Gulf Shipbuilding used asbestos in many of its shipyard activities. The Gulf Shipbuilding site closed in 1983, just as the asbestos health warnings were beginning to publically surface. The health dangers of asbestos, however, were unknown publically until the 1980s and unprotected shipyard workers at Gulf Shipbuilding were unknowingly exposed to high levels of dangerous asbestos for many years. 

Asbestos is a fibrous material once used in ship construction and repair for its ability to retard fire, withstand high temperatures, and resist corrosion. At Gulf Shipbuilding, the following ship components and products may have contained asbestos:

  • Boilers
  • Turbines
  • Electrical and plumbing insulation
  • Pumps
  • Steam pipe
  • Incinerators
  • Gaskets
  • Valves
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Welding blankets
  • Building insulation

Shipyard workers at Gulf Shipbuilding regularly used asbestos materials that released a dangerous fibrous asbestos dust into the air. When asbestos dust is inhaled it lodges in the lungs or the protective lining of many of the body’s organs. Serious health problems caused by exposure to asbestos include:

  • Mesothelioma (a cancer of the protective lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs, including the lungs)
  • Lung cancer
  • Asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
  • Cancer in other organs

Gulf Shipbuilding workers were unaware of the health hazards of asbestos and were unprotected when they regularly worked around this dangerous substance. It is estimated that over 100,000 U.S. shipyard workers have died from asbestos related diseases, including those from Gulf Shipbuilding. Shipyard workers concerned for their health have sought medical and legal advice about their asbestos exposure. Cases of asbestos injury, including injuries to victims who are shipyard workers suffering from asbestos exposure related diseases, have been successfully litigated around the country and resulted in significant monetary awards for asbestos victims.

Asbestos Injuries at the Gulf Shipbuilding – Alabama

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, we can help you explore your legal options. Contact our office today to speak to a Gulf Shipbuilding asbestos lawyer for a free case evaluation. You may be able to seek compensation for the damages to your health from asbestos exposure.  

Published November 17, 2011 by