The Norfolk Naval Shipyard is located in Portsmouth, Virginia and is considered the U.S. Navy’s oldest shipyard. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard is a major center of the construction, repair, and overhaul of U.S. Navy vessels. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard has contributed ships and their services during nine major wars and has been responsible for some of the most noteworthy advancements in the shipyard industry. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard remains the largest U.S. Naval facility and a modern shipyard at the forefront of the newest shipyard technology.

History of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard was originally built as a British Naval Yard in 1767 and predates the establishment of the U.S. Navy by 31 years. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard originally functioned as a naval and merchant shipyard. The first dry dock in the country, built during 1833, is located at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. During the Civil War, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard was commandeered by the Confederacy. It was in this shipyard where the Confederate Navy converted the USS Merrimack into the ironclad CSS Virginia, which engaged in a notorious battle with the USS Monitor during the Civil War.

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard was a major site of the production of US Navy vessels during the World Wars. During the peak of its wartime ship production, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard employed nearly 43,000 workers, built 30 major warships, and repaired over 6,500 ships for the Allied Forces.

In later years, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard continued its renowned productivity. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard built 1,250 vessels and two minesweepers during the Korean War. Over the years, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard has incorporated the new technology of the ship industry into their operations. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard prides itself on its many repair capabilities that include dry-dock services, fabrication, refitting, and engineering for any type of naval or commercial vessel. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard remains the largest U.S. Naval facility and one of the busiest shipyards on the East Coast.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Superfund Site

Over the course of its 240 years of operation, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard has generated large amounts of dangerous industrial wastes.  The Norfolk Naval Shipyard was placed on the National Priorities List in 1999 for the cleanup of those toxic wastes. Unfortunately, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard remains one of the largest Superfund cleanup sites in the U.S.

Asbestos & the Norfolk Naval Shipyard

A large number of shipyard workers of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard are at a great risk of serious health complications from exposure to toxic substances, such as asbestos. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard was built many years before the dangers of asbestos exposure were realized. Until the 1980s, asbestos material was used extensively in shipyard operations. Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers who were employed before the 1980s were likely exposed to high levels of asbestos for  prolonged periods of time. As a result, many Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers have developed life threatening diseases.  Asbestos was an ideal insulation material for shipbuilding and repair because of its heat and water resistant properties, Authorities have estimated that there were over 300 asbestos products used at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard from the 1930s through the 1980s. Asbestos was used in the following ship components and products at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard:

  • boilers
  • electrical and plumbing insulation
  • pumps
  • steam pipes
  • 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. When inhaled or ingested, asbestos dust lodges in the lungs or the protective lining of 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 other internal organs

Asbestos diseases can take years to become symptomatic. If you have worked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, you should inform your physician immediately of your possible asbestos exposure. An early diagnosis can help better manage some of these serious diseases. It has been estimated that nearly 100,000 shipyard workers have died from asbestos diseases, including Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers. In recent years, a number of shipyard companies, like the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, have been the targets of lawsuits brought by shipyard workers injured from asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Injuries at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard – Virginia

If you or a loved one worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Contact our experienced asbestos attorneys today as you may be entitled to compensation for your asbestos related injuries.

Published November 17, 2011 by