The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a U.S. Navy shipyard facility located in Kittery, Maine. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is involved in the construction, maintenance and repair of U.S. Navy vessels. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is also responsible for many technological innovations in the ship industry which have been adopted by shipyards around the nation. 

History of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was built in 1800 and is considered the U.S. Navy’s oldest continuously-operating shipyard. The first ship built by Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was the 74-gun ship of the Washington line, which was launched in 1814. The Portsmouth Naval Prison was built on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard site in 1905 and housed many prisoners of war until its close in 1974. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was also the site of the famous Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was extremely active during both World Wars and contributed enormously to the U.S. Navy during this time. In the advent of World War I, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard began to build submarines. During World War II, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard grew to 25,000 shipyard workers and over 70 submarines were built there. Submarine production was at a record high and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard once launched 4 submarines in a single day.

Following wartime, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard became the U.S. Navy’s center for submarine design and construction. The first nuclear powered submarine was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and was launched in 1957. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard built its last submarine in 1969.

Today the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is the leading shipyard in submarine overhaul and repair. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is still involved with a number of services for older U.S. Navy ships. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard continues to operate as a modern facility at the forefront of the newest technology in the marine industry.

Asbestos & the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Unfortunately, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard used asbestos in many of its shipyard operations. Because the health dangers associated with asbestos exposure were unknown until the 1980, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers wore no protection and were exposed to high levels of asbestos for prolonged periods of time.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral and was used in ship construction and repair at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for its ability to fireproof, withstand high temperatures, and resist corrosion. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers regularly worked with asbestos-containing materials, which can release a dangerous fibrous dust into the air. When asbestos dust is inhaled, it lodges in the lungs or the protective lining surrounding many of the body’s organs and can cause life threatening 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

Today there are government regulations restricting the use of asbestos. However, many older ships still contain asbestos. Consequently, current workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard could still be exposed to asbestos while servicing old Navy ships.

Asbestos Injuries at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – Maine

If you or a loved one were injured by asbestos while working at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, please contact us today as you may be entitled to compensation for your asbestos-related injuries.  

Published November 17, 2011 by