The Defoe Shipyard, formerly known as the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, based in Bay City, Michigan, was a smaller shipbuilding company that was working from 1905-1976. It played a vital role in the building and repairing of vessels for the US Navy. But the shipyard used asbestos-containing materials extensively and led to many workers developing mesothelioma and asbestosis. (mesotheliomalawyercenter.org)
For most of its decades of operation, Defoe Shipyard used toxic asbestos-containing materials in a variety of settings because it was resistant to fire and heat, and an excellent insulator, and affordable.
The History of Defoe Shipbuilding
Defoe Shipyard was started in 1905 and expanded significantly in 1917 when it scored a contract with the US Navy to build several large vessels – five Spent Tornado Chasers. A year after that, the company constructed eight Tumor Mine Planters for the US Navy.
Through 1939, Defoe Shipbuilding Company constructed many commercial and government ships, as well as a few private yachts. When WWII began, most of the focus at the shipyard was on the war effort. The company created destroyer transports, destroyer escorts, minesweepers and many other ships and landing crafts.
The company also built many vessels after WWII, such as two bulk carriers for the Great Lakes. The shipyard shut down at the end of 1976 after its Navy contracts expired.
Defoe Shipyard and Asbestos Exposure
It was known as early as 1944 that asbestos was dangerous to human health, according to the US Maritime Commission. The hazards of workers getting asbestosis was of particular concern for workers who installed pipes and those who generally worked around vessels that were filled with asbestos.
The US Maritime Commission wrote a report to warn shipbuilding companies of the dangers of asbestos. It recommended that all shipyard workers use protective gear while they were on the job. But many shipyards overlooked the many hazards of asbestos because of deadlines to get ships built. They continued with work without protecting workers.
Many asbestos subcontractors put asbestos-containing products in ships at Defoe. These companies installed insulation containing asbestos, as well as pipes, pipe coverings, and more.
Both contractors and employees at Defoe Shipyard worked around asbestos-containing products every day and were not given safety equipment or adequate ventilation for their workspaces. They were regularly breathing in and swallowing asbestos dust.
Many workers developed serious health problems, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Some of these workers decided to file personal injury lawsuits against the companies that provided asbestos-containing products to Defoe Shipyard.
If you or a loved one worked at Defoe Shipyard and think you were exposed to asbestos and have a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may want to consult with a licensed mesothelioma attorney today.
Your lawyer can review your employment history and medical files and determine if there is a possibility that your asbestos exposure occurred at Defoe Shipyard or another facility. Mesothelioma attorneys can access databases of companies that provided asbestos-containing materials to shipyard all over the country for decades. In most cases, the companies that exposed you to asbestos can be found. If so, you may be able to obtain compensation for your lost earnings, medical bills, and pain and suffering.