The USS Carpellotti was a high speed transport ship, one of many auxiliary ships used in the U.S. Navy for various purposes, including transporting personnel, equipment, and weapons. The Carpellotti was commissioned as World War II was winding down so she did not participate but was important in post-war activities and throughout the 1950s.
Although her commissioned service period was a short one, the Carpellotti, like other ships in the U.S. Navy caused harm to veterans. Along with other transport ships, those with the designation AP, used and constructed during World War II, the Carpellotti was made using asbestos. It is documented to have contained asbestos in gaskets and other components. Decades after service on her, some veterans were diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos exposure illnesses.
About the USS Carpellotti
The USS Carpellotti, which was designated APD-136, was classified as a high speed transport auxiliary ship in the U.S. Navy. The high speed transports were often converted from destroyers and escorts and were used for amphibious operations. They delivered smaller units of men, including the Army Rangers, into enemy territories, carrying about 200 troops at a time. If necessary, these ships would provide gun support as well.
The Carpellotti was a member of the Crosely class of high speed transports that served in World War II, the Korean War, and for some of them, in the Vietnam War as well. They were converted from destroyer escorts of the Rudderow class. The Carpellotti’s original designation as a destroyer escort was DE-720, but was already re-designated as APD-136 before being laid down.
She was laid down on October 31, 1944 at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, Michigan. She launched on March 19, 1945 and sailed from Bay City on Lake Huron to Chicago. She was then pushed with a barge down several rivers to the Mississippi and was eventually commissioned in Algiers, Louisiana under the command of Lieutenant Commander J.V. Brown on July 30, 1945.
The Carpellotti displaced nearly 1,500 tons and was 306 feet long. She carried 162 troops and a complement of 204 officers and men. She was armed with 12 guns and carried four landing crafts for transporting troops to shore. She was propelled by two Combustion Engineering boilers and two General Electric steam turbines. This equipment and the rooms in which they were housed were likely to have contained significant asbestos insulation.
The USS Carpellotti was built and commissioned too late to participate in World War II during active duty, but she did remain in active service with the Atlantic Fleet for the duration of the war and post-war activities. She was based out of Norfolk, Virginia. Following activities after the war, including a cruise to various ports in England and France, the Carpellotti was stationed at Yorktown, Virginia through 1947.
Active service for the Carpellotti and her crew began again in 1948 when she participated in assault exercises in the Caribbean. She then cruised to ports in Europe and participated in a Persian Gulf good-will tour, all in the same year. She was also present for and active in several NATO exercises in the Mediterranean Sea throughout the 1950s. During her service the Carpellotti earned the American Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
The USS Carpellotti was decommissioned on April 21, 1958 and was struck from the Naval Register on December 1, 1959. She was sold for scrap the following year. The scrap materials from the Carpellotti went into the construction of the bridge and tunnel project between Norfolk and Portsmouth Virginia.
Asbestos Used on the Carpellotti
Ships in the U.S. Navy were often made using asbestos in the construction of many of its parts, and the USS Carpellotti was no exception. Many of the components that included asbestos came from private manufacturing companies, such as General Electric, which provided the steam turbines. Equipment like the turbines and the boilers generated a lot of heat and needed to be well insulated. Asbestos is excellent at insulating and can be molded into different shapes while not adding much extra weight to materials. These properties, as well as its abundance and affordability, made asbestos an obvious choice for building ships for several decades.
Asbestos was used in many other components of the Carpellotti and other navy ships. Insulation was one of the major uses of asbestos, and it was found in insulating felt, cloth, pipe wrappings, and many other types of insulation on ships. The Carpellotti is also documented as having asbestos in its gaskets, which were used throughout the ships. Firefighting gear, safety gear, ropes, adhesives, flooring and ceiling materials, and many other parts and materials were also likely to have contained asbestos on board.
Exposure to Asbestos on the USS Carpellotti
Anyone who served on the USS Carpellotti was at risk of being exposed to the asbestos on board. Asbestos is made of tiny fibers that can easily break loose from the material and become airborne. Once in the air it can be inhaled by anyone in the vicinity. Once in the body those fibers cause damage to tissues and in some people this will accumulate over decades to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other illnesses. Asbestos on ships like the Carpellotti could have shed fibers during routine maintenance, repairs, accidents, or just through normal wear and tear over years.
The workers who were most at risk of exposure were those who built the ship, did repair and maintenance work on her, and who served on board in areas where there was a lot of asbestos and little ventilation or air flow. This includes the engine and boiler rooms where asbestos insulation was heavy and the space was cramped. Insulation workers were also at serious risk. In just one claim filed to the Veterans Administration, a veteran who served on the Carpellotti testified to having removed asbestos insulation on the ship and to having worked with asbestos compound. He later developed respiratory illnesses, attributed to this exposure as he had not been exposed to asbestos before or after his service.
Veterans like this commonly find they have respiratory illnesses after decades since leaving the navy. Rates of illnesses like mesothelioma are higher in navy veterans because of how much asbestos was used on the ships. If you served on a ship known to have had asbestos, like the Carpellotti, and you believe it contributed to or caused your illness, you can file a claim with the VA for compensation.
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