U.S.S. Dubuque LPD-8
The service of the U.S.S. Dubuque (named after the prominent Iowa city) LPD-8 may have ended with its decommissioning in 2011, but its long Naval record will not be forgotten. From its construction at Ingalls’s Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to more than forty years of Naval service, the U.S.S. Dubuque sailed under the motto, “Our Country, Heritage, And Future.”
It was not until the 1970s that United States naval ship construction really began to address some of the risks of asbestos in Navy vessels. As a pre-1970 vessel, the Dubuque poses concerns to those who built her, and the thousands who served aboard her. The Dubuque was also to become an important part of the mid-point of the Navy’s widely praised move toward multi-purpose, Amphibious Transport Dock ships. The Cleveland was the Dubuque’s sister ship. In the Austin class, the Dubuque was soon nicknamed the ‘Mighty Eight’ for its flagship number. The keel was laid in 1965, and the vessel launched less than seven months later. Dubuque was hustled into service for the escalating Viet Nam conflict while calling San Diego its home port.
Soon, the Dubuque was hosting battle-hardened Marines as well as captured North Vietnamese prisoners.
Repairs and Upgrades
Following its heroic services in Viet Nam, the Dubuque remained officially in the Pacific fleet for most of the rest of its career. Because this long service, the Dubuque also helped define almost all the major challenges to America since Viet Nam. But the needed repairs and upgrades to a long-serving Dubuque also meant special risks of asbestos exposure, and possible mesothelioma claims: claims that may have taken decades to appear.
Part of the Reagan strategy to block Soviet sea power, the Dubuque also helped in Operation Enduring Freedom, in 2001. The Dubuque was part of the very first amphibious readiness group in the Mediterranean. A decade later, Dubuque was on hand to help deal with piracy off the coast of West Africa and supported the liberation of the transport vessel Magellan Star in 2010. Dubuque’s role was especially praised in capturing nine pirates.
As with many of her class of ships, the Dubuque was a workhorse for training other nation’s naval crews. Training missions included every aspect of the Dubuque’s repertoire…search and rescue, helicopter deck landings, and combat medical procedures.
Asbestos Risks On the U.S.S. Dubuque (LPD-6)
By 2011, the Dubuque was one of the longest-serving vessels in the US Navy. Through its long history, some experts have estimated there were hundreds of potential asbestos-exposing parts of vessels in this class. In fact, there are estimates of more than 300 parts on Austin-class vessels, which may have exposed the crew to asbestos and medical risks such as mesothelioma.
At its Fifth Fleet decommissioning ceremony in June, the Dubuque and its thousands of crew members were recalled for their dedication. “every sailor and marine who has served aboard Dubuque has played a part in her successful deployment.” The Dubuque, mothballed in Port Townsend, Washington, had become part of the US Navy’s history. The Dubuque, mothballed in Bremerton, Washington, had become part of the US Navy’s history.