Boatswain’s mates

Exposed to asbestos at their workplace

The rating of boatswain’s mate is one of the oldest in the U.S. Navy, dating back to 1794. It was a rating which allowed new recruits to enter the military without pursuing a specific career path. Thereby, people who served in the military as boatswain’s mates were responsible with training, directing and supervising the personnel of the ship in various activities, such as operating and maintaining equipment, loading and unloading cargo, ammunition and fuel, as well as performing seamanship tasks. They were heavily exposed to asbestos, since the ships and submarines of the U.S. Navy were laden with asbestos, having over 300 different asbestos products aboard before 1980.

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Also present in the U.S. Coast Guard, the rating of boatswain’s mate entailed performing duties concerning deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation and supervision of military personnel who were also serving on the ship. They would assist military personnel in all the activities which involved using the marlinspike, a tool used to tie large knots, and also in tasks regarding the deck, painting, the upkeep of the external structure of the ship, rigging and the boats.

In the military, boatswain’s mates were the experts in every aspect of deck seamanship and navigation. They were also in charge of commanding coastal patrol boats, river tenders, harbor tugs, and small shore units. Other duties boatswain’s mates would perform included repairing, maintaining and stowing equipment in preparation for underway operations, working in non-engineering divisions of the ship or station, doing temporary duty with food services divisions and participating in naval ceremonies.

Relevant job titles

  • ship, boat and barge mate
  • motorboat operator
  • painter
  • sailors and marine oiler
  • rigger
  • aviation boatswain's mate


Filing a claim with asbestos trust funds does not disqualify you from disability compensation from the VA.

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Asbestos-related cancer eligible for filing a claim

If you developed one of the following cancers as a result of occupational exposure, you are eligible for compensation. If you are too ill, a family member can help you with the legal process. In the unfortunate event that you pass away before recovering compensation, your surviving family members will receive compensation on your behalf.

Lung Cancer Mesothelioma Throat Cancer Esophageal Cancer Bronchial Cancer Gastrointestinal Cancer Colorectal Cancer

If, however, you struggle with non-cancerous pleural diseases such as asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pleural plaques, pleural effusion, diffuse pleural thickening, COPD (emphysema & chronic bronchitis), pleurisy, lung nodules, lung spots, asthma, pneumonitis, tuberculosis, rounded atelectasis or lung scarring, please seek a second or even a third opinion as the rate of misdiagnosis is very high among the victims of asbestos exposure.