Western Shipyard, also known as Western Pipe and Steel Company, was located at San Pedro Bay in San Francisco, California. Western Shipyard was very prosperous during the two world wars. During this time, the shipyard’s workers constructed dozens of warships for the U.S. Navy.

The Western Shipyard’s Functions    

The Western Shipyard was established in the early 1900s to manufacture pipes for commercial ships. In 1917, the U.S. Shipping Board awarded the Western Shipyard with a contract to construct eighteen merchant ships for the U.S. Navy.

During World War II, the U.S. Maritime Commission granted several contracts to the Western Shipyard to construct numerous ships for the U.S. Navy. Western Shipyard’s employees also repaired 118 damaged Navy warships. To accommodate the increased naval demand, Western Shipyard expanded to a second shipyard to accommodate the increased naval demand. Ships constructed at the Western Shipyard include:

  • Destroyer escorts
  • Cutters
  • Dump scows
  • Icebreakers
  • Cargo ships
  • LSMs (landing ships, medium)

The Western Shipyard continued operations until it was sold in 1983 to a commercial developer.

Asbestos at Western Shipyard  

Unfortunately, many of these workers were exposed to asbestos while working at the shipyard. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Because it is fire and water resistant, asbestos was used in various shipbuilding materials until the 1970s. Asbestos was also used as a fireproofing material for insulation. Some of the ship components that contained asbestos include:

  • Gaskets
  • Steam pipes
  • Hot water pipes
  • Wall insulation
  • Incinerators
  • Boilers

Asbestos containing materials are dangerous when asbestos fibers are released from them and inhaled. When inhaled, asbestos fibers remain lodged in the lungs causing severe and fatal diseases such as:

  • Mesothelioma (a rare cancer that affects the lining surrounding the lungs)
  • Asbestosis (lung tissue scarring)
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer

Western Shipyard workers were continuously handling asbestos containing materials during ship construction and repairs. When these asbestos containing materials were broken or disturbed, asbestos fibers were released into the air. Because Western Shipyard was poorly ventilated and most workers did not wear protective clothing or respiratory gear, many workers inhaled the toxic fibers.  As a result many workers became terminally ill.

Asbestos Injuries at Western Shipyard – California

If you or a loved one has been injured working at the Western Shipyard, please contact us today to speak to our experienced lawyers about your legal rights.

Published November 17, 2011 by