The fifth ship to be named after the shark, the USS Shark was a porpoise-class submarine launched on May 21, 1935. She was sponsored by the 12-year-old daughter of the United States Senator Augustine Lonergan of Connecticut, Ms. Ruth Ellen Lonergan. The USS Shark was commissioned on January 25, 1936 with Lieutenant C.J. Carter in command.
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Shark patrolled Tayabas Bay until ordered back to Manila on December 19, 1940 to embark Admiral Thomas C. Hard, Commander-in-chief, Asiatic Fleet, for transportation to Soerabaja, Java.
Shark was almost hit with a torpedo by an Imperial Japanese Navy sub on January 6th 1942. She then was ordered to Ambon Island where an enemy invasion was suspected. Then on the 27th she was directed to patrol in the Strait of Malacca to cover the passage east of Lifamatola and Bangka Strait. In early February she reported that she had been depth-charged 10 mi off Tifore Island and had failed to sink a Japanese ship during a torpedo attack.
February 7th she reported that she chased an empty cargo ship, for which Admiral Wilkes upbraided her commanding officer. That was the last report ever heard from the Shark. She was told to proceed to Makassar Strait and report information. Nothing was heard back and on March 7 she was reported as presumed lost to enemy anti-submarine warfare. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on June 24, 1942.
Japanese records show numerous attacks on unidentified targets in the area Shark was presumed attacked. On February 11, for example the Japanese destroyer Yamakaze fired guns and sank a submarine. Voices were heard from the water but there was no attempt to save the possible survivors.
Shark received one battle star for World War II service.
Asbestos and Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.