The America was at the time of its construction, the safest passenger ship in the world. Particularly in line with many of its fire protection arrangements a security level, which in many areas still can compete with modern standards it.
These high standards are in many ways their striving for perfection and absolute safety engineer William Francis Gibbs, but also the already in the 30s very progressive national regulations of the American Bureau of Shipping in the U.S. thanks to.
One can say that America's first major passenger ship in the world was, that modern fire regulations sufficed, and the several decades before they were ever unumgehbar held binding in international regulations.
Technically, America was the first so-called "Method 1" (Method 1) ship in the world. This design still in use today sat on passive fire protection by the lack of combustible materials in static construction, insulation, wall, ceiling and floor paneling.
To achieve this exceptional fire protection time fire resistant composite was named "Marinite" used in the America. This Marinite owed its fire resistance, especially a now outlawed Mineral: asbestos.
Marinite was used in sheet form for almost all of the wall panels and ceiling panels extensively throughout the ship, partly coated etc. with a thin wood veneer to replace flammable materials such as plywood. Although the asbestos was relatively bound in the Mariniteplatten consisted of mechanical stress on these boards, the risk of release of asbestos fibers into the air because the plates under stress could be porous.
Another use of asbestos on the ship was at their typical locations such as flooring or sound and heat insulation. The health risk of these panels and insulation on ocean liners were less at risk of the passengers, rather than in participating in the retrofitting shipyard workers, which motierten the boards, sawed or removed, and so a high concentration of asbestos fibers were exposed in the air. (Currently this topic is also the scrapping of contaminated ships in third world countries where workers are still exposed unprotected these hazards, which in some cases even, as in the case of the Platinum II (ex SS Independence) or the Blue Lady (formerly SS Norway and SS France), was a political issue.)
The first class dining room during the post-war reconstruction of America in 1946. The marinite panels were simply shredded from the walls and lay in fragments on the floor. For shipyard workers who were entrusted with such tasks, there was increased health risk due to exposure to asbestos fibers from the broken panels and insulation materials.
-Picture: Newport News Shipyard Bulletin-
To capture the end of the 30s completely safely and with much pride the fire built and seen as consistently positive breakthrough, it did not much thought to the dangers of asbestos. At that time the use was revolutionary, and no other material could with similar material properties (fire resistance, weight, stability) of asbestos fiber boards draw level as Marinite.
In practice, the use of the materials in retrospect was a double-edged sword. On one side there was a long neglected and partly unknown, high health burden for shipyard workers with severe late effects, on the other hand, this design also saved lives at sea. Without Marinite and fire-resistant insulation materials would be as been like to save America during the two severe fire in their Australis time and a little further escalating situation on board would have been able to expand quickly to catastrophe.
With this construction, the America is by far not an isolated case, but corresponds to what was starting with her and continued until a few decades ago to standard passenger and commercial vessels for fire prevention. So famous passenger ships such as the QE2, the Norway (ex France) or the Rotterdam and many more added to the solid mounting of asbestos composites. Also, until recently propelled cruise ships like the Oceanic or the Emerald and many of the still moving older cruise ships have the same problem. Only in new buildings from the 80s and 90s is no longer expected to use. Since that time, asbestos-free substitutes are materials with similar properties.
As part of the reorganization of the American Star in Thailand an asbestos removal was provided.
Her sister ship, the United States, was released in Ukraine of asbestos in 1992. To an almost complete gutting the ship was necessary. In the American Star, the result in many areas would have looked very similar. Despite a gutting a faithful restoration is possible, however, shows the example of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The United States Lines, the former shipping company of America in transatlantic service, hung in their bankruptcy in the 80s by liquidity problems in a bold expansion to the way several class action lawsuits from patients suffering from cancer and Asbestoise crew members on. These and similar cases related indeed to merchant ships which were used in freight traffic, but helped in the public awareness of the dangers of asbestos to create and had thus indirectly also to the end of Verbauens asbestos composites in passenger ships and widely used in construction control.
These drawings show the use of Marinite in drywall installation and ceiling construction of America. On the left you can see details of the ceiling suspension of ceiling panels. In the middle you can see a marinite wall panel with sound insulators for noise reduction and to block transmitted vibrations of the steel deck. To the right (above) you can see a horizontal connection between two wall panels.
-Pictures: Marine Engineering and Shipping Review-