Reliving History Aboard the SS American Victory

During my long career as a mesothelioma lawyer, I’ve had the opportunity to represent hundreds of Navy veterans and shipyard workers.   This work has given me a profound appreciation for our country’s historic Navy vessels and victory ships.  I am constantly amazed by the craftsmanship and skill of the men and women who designed, built, and maintained these magnificent machines.

A few months ago, I had the chance to experience a little taste of life aboard a World War II era ship, the SS American Victory.   The SS American Victory was launched in 1945 and served our country for many years, from World War II through Vietnam.  She is one of only four fully operational 1945 World War II ships in the country.

A Link to the Past

The trip was described appropriately as a “Relive History Cruise”.  We sailed from her homeport in Tampa, FL into Tampa Bay before returning to dock at the American Victory Ship Mariners Museum.  This was a true opportunity to relive history!  There were re-enactors from the Florida Historical Preservation Group, memorial and prayer ceremonies, World War II airplane flyovers, and a host of other activities which brought the WWII era back to life.

Learning Through Experience

For me, the trip on the SS American Victory was valuable on both a personal and professional level.  Through my 30 years of advocating for Navy clients, I have developed an extensive library of ship drawings and plans.  I’ve also visited numerous museum ships to educate myself about the engineering spaces and equipment on various classes of Navy vessels.  However, there is no substitute for seeing a historic vessel in operation.

The steam boilers and turbines on the SS American Victory were incredible!   There is nothing like the noise, heat, vibration and energy of the steam plant when the ship is underway.   Seeing these systems in action gave me a whole new appreciation for the harsh working conditions the sailors endured on those WWII-era ships.  I also had the chance to observe the ships’ valves and pumps in actual operation, much as they would have looked during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.   All of this gives me a greater depth of knowledge that I can use to advocate for my clients in Navy and maritime cases.

Unseen Dangers

My cruise on the SS American Victory also served as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the members of her crew, and all the men and women who served on Navy vessels and victory ships.   None of these ships could have accomplished their vital missions without their crews and we should never forget their contributions and sacrifices for us.

Sadly, many of our Navy veterans are still paying the price for their service to this very day.  Asbestos was used widely aboard navy ships and submarines for many years.  Although the dangers and hazards of breathing asbestos is fairly well known today by the general public, such was not the case for the Navy seamen and shipyard workers who built, repaired and maintained these ships many decades ago. Because there is a delay or latency between the time someone is exposed to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma and other lung disease, most seamen were not aware of the dangers of their asbestos exposure.  For more information about the risks to U.S. Navy veterans, visit our website page on Help for Veterans.

Preserving the Past and Protecting the Legacy

Museum ships like the SS American Victory provide me with valuable information and insight that I can use to help my clients obtain the compensation they deserve.  More than that, these museums preserve a priceless historical legacy which belongs to all American.  I encourage everyone to support not only the American Victory Ship Mariners Memorial Museum, but all the historical museum ships located across the country.

Nuclear Submarine USS Miami Catches Fire

There are many nuclear- powered Los Angeles class submarines home ported in my own backyard at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard –the USS Bremerton SSN 698, the USS Jacksonville SSN 699, the USS Chicago SSN 721, and a number of others.  So I read with interest a report from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard located in Kittery, Miane, regarding a fire on board one of these submarines.

The Los Angeles-class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines forms the backbone of the United States submarine fleet.  There are presently 42 on active duty making this class the most numerous nuclear-powered submarine class in the world.  A fire on one of these nuclear submarines is a serious matter.

Fire Caused By Vacuum Cleaner

USS Miami SSN-755

On May 23, 2012 the USS Miami SSN 755 caught fire.  The cause of the fire looks to be a vacuum cleaner on board.  The submarine was in the process of a 20 month overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  The vacuum cleaner was being used by shipyard workers to clean up at the end of each work day.  Investigators are still unsure what caused the vacuum to catch fire.  The fire caused damage to the torpedo room, the crew’s quarters, and command control.  Luckily the nuclear propulsion plant had already been shut down for the overhaul.

Early estimates put the cost of the damage in the range of $400 million.  The Navy has said they intend to repair this Los Angeles Class Sub instead of starting from scratch on a new boat.  If the Navy goes forward with the repairs on the USS Miami, it will remain in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard until completed.

Nuclear Submarines and Asbestos

Although the nuclear submarines built today are asbestos free, significant amounts of asbestos insulating products were used on submarines from World War II up until the 1980’s, including nuclear submarines.  As a result, thousands of submariners and shipyard workers were exposed to this deadly carcinogen.  While at sea, asbestos insulation, as well as asbestos gaskets and packing, would often be disturbed during on-board repairs and maintenance.  This would release millions of tiny asbestos fibers into the small confined spaces of the submarines. Unfortunately, submariners aboard were exposed to the dangers of asbestos while they ate, slept, relaxed, and worked.

Likewise shipyard workers who constructed, repaired, and maintained submarines were exposed to asbestos products as they carried out their work.  Shipyard workers and submariners who worked on and served aboard U.S. Navy submarines are at risk of developing Mesothelioma and other serious asbestos related diseases.

For more information on asbestos exposure and shipyard workers and Navy veterans, please visit our webpage on asbestos exposure at jobsites.

Our Experience

Through our 33 years of practicing mesothelioma law, we have had the honor to represent hundreds of shipyard workers and U.S. Navy crewmen including those who served and worked aboard submarines.  Sadly, due to the very confined spaces of these boats the crews and shipyard workers had no choice but to inhale the deadly asbestos dust.  The companies who sold these asbestos products were well aware of its deadly potential and yet they continued to sell it without warning to its users.

For over 30 years the Galiher Law Firm has been representing asbestos victims to ensure they receive compensation from these companies.  If you or a loved one worked or served aboard a U.S. Navy submarine, it is important to inform your doctor so your physician can monitor you closely for signs of asbestos-related disease.  If you have an asbestos-related injury as result of your service, please call us so we can help you and your family.