History of Newport Naval Yard

The Newport Naval Yard was established in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the Newport Naval Yard serviced naval ships off the Eastern Coast. During the Civil War, the Newport Naval Yard was also responsible for the producing iron steamships and submarines for the Union and Confederate navies. In 1869, the U.S. Navy built a Torpedo Station on Goat Island that became the Newport Naval Complex, the only active military base in Rhode Island. The site has since become home to the U.S. Navy Education and Training center. 

During both of the World Wars, the Newport Naval Yard contributed enormously to the United States Navy’s war efforts. Due to the Newport Naval Yard’s prime location, it became one of the busiest production and storage sites for naval vessels and ships. During World War II, the Torpedo Station at the Newport Naval Yard reached its peak producing 80% of the torpedoes used by the U.S. in the war and more than 13,000 employees.    

In 1951, the Torpedo Station at the Newport Naval Yard was disestablished. In 1955, construction began on Piers 1 and 2 at the Newport Naval Yard to accommodate the Navy Commander Cruiser- Destroyer Force, Atlantic. In 1973, a Navy realignment commission relocated the Commander Cruiser-Destroyer fleet and reduced personnel and operations. A 2005 recommendation from the Department of Defense may relocate certain Newport Naval Station operations to the Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. 

The Newport Naval Yard Today

The Newport Naval Yard is home to institutions responsible for training U.S. Navy personnel. The Newport Naval Yard site includes a:

  • Naval War College
  • Naval Undersea Warfare Center
  • Naval Justice School
  • Surface Warfare Officers School Command
  • Naval Academy Preparatory School
  • Naval Officer Training Center
  • Senior Enlisted Academy
  • Naval Station

The U.S. Navy also uses the Newport Naval Yard to harbor and maintain decommissioned naval vessels. Currently, the Newport Naval Yard is home to the inactive USS Forrestal and the USS Saratoga.

Asbestos & the Newport Naval Yard

Those who were employed or trained at the Newport Naval Yard before the 1980s are at risk for developing life threatening diseases due to asbestos exposure. The Newport Naval Shipyard was built many years before the dangers of asbestos exposure were realized and Newport Naval Shipyard workers often worked directly with asbestos. Asbestos was used extensively in the naval and shipping industry because of its ability to retard flame, withstand high temperatures, and resist corrosion.

Shipyard workers and the military personnel training at the Newport Naval Yard regularly used asbestos materials and operated in ships rife with asbestos. When asbestos materials are manipulated, asbestos fibers may become airborne. In the tight, poorly ventilated ships, airborne asbestos fibers are likely to be inhaled. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lungs or protective lining surrounding the body’s organs and cause severe and fatal health problems including:

  • 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

The effect of asbestos exposure on the health of shipyard workers of the Newport Naval Shipyard is now being felt. Authorities have estimated that nearly 100,000 shipyard workers have died from asbestos-related diseases. Today there are government regulations regarding the asbestos use in the ship industry. However, shipyard workers currently employed at the Newport Naval are still at risk of asbestos exposure when repairing older ships that may contain asbestos. 

If you or a loved one has worked or trained at the Newport Naval Yard, it is important that you tell your doctor of your asbestos exposure. Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases can take decades to appear. An early diagnosis can help better manage some of these severe diseases. Many shipyard workers injured by asbestos exposure have turned to lawyers to learn about their legal options. 

Asbestos Injuries at the Newport Naval Yard – Rhode Island

If you or someone you love worked or trained at the Newport Naval Yard and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact us today to determine if you have a case and are entitled to compensation.

Published November 17, 2011 by