This ship was the sixth US Navy ship to be named after the shark. A Balao- class submarine, she was launched on October 17th, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Albert Thomas and commissioned on February 14, 1944 with Commander Edward Noe Blakely in command.
War Patrols of Note
Her first war patrol was part of a coordinated attack group with two other submarines. One the morning on June 2, 1944, Shark fired a spread of torpedoes at a Japanese tanker. Although she missed the target, the torpedoes continued on to hit and sink another enemy vessel. The sunken vessel was the 4,700 ton cargo ship Chiyo maru.
Two days later she was on the hunt for a heavily escorted convoy and upon moving in for attack, she encountered a patrolling destroyer dead ahead of her. She didn’t maneuver fast in time for a down the throat attack, but she launched four torpedoes toward her along the port side. The enemy cargo ship, Katsukawa maru, was hit all four times and and sent straight to the bottom of the sea. She then submerged in the water to avoid the enemy ships escorts and later surfaced to continue the attack.
On June 5th she caught up with another convoy and shot six torpedoes which sank the 3,080 ton freighter Tamahima maru and the 7,006 ton passenger cargo ship, Takoka Maru.
Shark was lost on her third war patrol likely in the Luzon Strait area. She was participating in a coordinated attack group with other submarines, Seadragon (SS-194) and Blackfish (SS-221) when Seadragon received a message on October 24 that Shark had made radar contact with a single freighter and she was going to attack.
Shark was never heard from again and was presumed lost on November 27, 1944. For her services in World War II, Shark received one battle star. After the war Japanese records indicate that one of their destroyers made contact with a submerged submarine and dropped depth-charges. The destroyer lost contact, but once regained she dropped another 17 depth charges which resulted in “bubbles, heavy oil, clothes and cork” coming to the surface.
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.