History of Bath Iron Works

The Bath Iron Works shipyard was established in 1884 on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine. In 1890, the Bath Iron Works shipyard secured its first U.S. Navy contract to build gunboats. In the early years of Bath Iron Works, government contracts comprised 86 percent of the shipyard’s revenues.

During the World War era, Bath Iron Works was at its operations peak. During this time, ship production was at a record high and Bath Iron Works completed a naval destroyer every seventeen days. The Bath Iron Works shipyard produced a large amount of U.S. Navy vessels in record times and quickly responded to emergency repairs. The Bath Iron Works shipyard’s reputation for versatility and its ability to build and repair vessels of different types and sizes, helped make Bath Iron Works one of the most important shipyards of that time.

Following the World Wars, there was a dramatic decrease in the demand for ship construction. For some time, Bath Iron Works focused its efforts on servicing commercial industries. After 1981, Bath Iron Works resumed its services to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and now works exclusively on government contracts. In 1995, General Dynamics purchased Bath Iron Works. However, Bath Iron Works remains at the center of Maine’s ship industry and is one of the state’s largest employers.

Asbestos & Bath Iron Works

Asbestos was used extensively at the Bath Iron Works shipyard prior to the 1980s. Because the serious health risks of asbestos were unknown until that point, Bath Iron Works shipyard workers were unprotected around the dangerous material.

Asbestos was an ideal insulation material for shipbuilding and repair at Bath Iron Works because of its ability to fireproof materials, resist corrosion, and withstand high temperatures. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was likely used in the following ship components and products at the Bath Iron Works shipyard:

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

When shipyard workers work with asbestos containing materials, a fibrous dust is released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested. In tight, poorly ventilated ship areas, asbestos inhalation is very likely. When inhaled, asbestos dust lodges in the lungs or the protective lining surrounding many of the body’s organs and can cause severe and fatal diseases, such as:

  • 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 a number of other organs

Asbestos Injuries at Bath Iron Works – Maine

If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos at the Bath Iron Works Shipyard, contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal rights.

Published November 17, 2011 by