Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco, originally called Union Iron and Brass Works, was founded by Peter Donahue in 1849 and operated in the iron works industry. In the late 1800s, Union Iron stopped its iron and brass operation and focused solely on the shipbuilding industry. In 1906, the shipyard was sold to Bethlehem Steel and its name was changed to Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco in 1917. The Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco quickly established itself as one of the major pre-war shipbuilders.

Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco and WWI

Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco, like many shipyards, played an instrumental part in the war effort. During the war, Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco purchased a nearby locomotive company called Risdon Iron Works. Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco then combined the shipbuilding and locomotive industries to construct war time passenger vessels, which were fitted with torpedo defense infrastructures.

Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco and WWII   

During World War II, Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco shifted its primary focus to repairing warships. Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco did, however, construct ten troop-transport vessels for the U.S. Navy.

Today, Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco still functions as the San Francisco Drydock Company.

Asbestos at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco  

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Asbestos’s fire and water resistant properties make it an ideal material for shipbuilding and ship products. Before the 1980s, asbestos was often used as insulation for ship components, including:

  • Boilers
  • Incinerators
  • Plumbing
  • Ventilation

In 1978, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of asbestos containing materials in ships. When asbestos becomes airborne and is inhaled, toxic asbestos fibers become permanently lodged in the lungs causing severe and fatal diseases such as:

  • Mesothelioma (a rare cancer that affects the lining surrounding many of the body’s organs)
  • Asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer

Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco’s employees were constantly exposed to asbestos fibers. Many workers have described walking through a thick fog of asbestos. Unaware that asbestos was dangerous, shipyard workers did not wear protective clothing or respiratory equipment.

Asbestos Injuries at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco – California

If you or a loved one has been injured working at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard San Francisco, please contact us today as you may be entitled to compensation.  

Published November 17, 2011 by