USS Shark SSN-591 (1961-1990)
The seventh Navy vessel to be named after the Shark, a large ocean predator, the USS Shark was a Skipjack-class submarine launched on March 16, 1960. She was sponsored by Mrs. Louis Shane, Jr. and commissioned on February 9th, 1961 with Lieutenant Commander John F. Fagan, Jr., in command.
After her post-shakedown repairs, she was finally accepted by the Navy and sailed for the Mediterranean Sea. Her duty with the Sixth Fleet was the first ever deployment of a nuclear submarine and she was deployed from August 12 until the 14th of November, 1961.
In mid 1963, Shark was part of SUBFALLEX in the North Atlantic and spent a week in Faslane, Scotland. For the rest of the year she was either in port of in local operations practicing antisubmarine warfare exercises in the Caribbean.
She partook in SUBSPRINGEX on March 22, 1964 where she was presented with the navy Unit Commendation for her service in SUBSPRINGEX. She “achieved results of great value and importance to the United States Navy in the field of antisubmarine warfare capabilities.”
Shark headed for the North Atlantic in January of 1967 where she conducted special operations until March 24. She was again, awarded her second Navy Unit Commendation for her service during the special operations in which “Shark contributed significantly to the knowledge of the United States Navy in the field of antisubmarine warfare.”
She was formally decommissioned and stricken from the Navy Vessel Register on Spetember 15, 1990. She was entered into the Nucllear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program in Washington on October 1995 and the process was completed in June of 1996.
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.