The Loss of USS SHARK (SS-174)

In January of 1942, just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, USS SHARK (SS-174) set out on her first war patrol. She was dispatched first to Ambon Island in Indonesia; then, on the 27th, she joined several other subs that were patrolling in the Strait of Malacca, which separates Malaysia from Singapore.

On 2 February she reported being depth charged. On the seventh an admiral admonished her commanding officer for chasing an empty cargo ship. The following day SHARK’s chain of command ordered her to move to the Makassar Strait; no one knows whether she made it or not because the boat was never heard from again.

Japanese records examined after the war document at least three attacks on subs that could have been SHARK. The destroyer Yamakaze carried out the most likely one early on the morning of 11 February when she fired her five-inch guns—42 shells in all—and machine guns at a surfaced boat. It sank almost immediately. The Yamakaze crew reported hearing voices in the water, but no survivors were picked up. SHARK, the first American boat lost to Japanese anti-submarine activity in World War II, was listed as overdue and presumed lost on 7 March 1942. Fifty-nine men perished with her.

The future commander SHARK, Louis Shane, Jr. He is pictured here in what would be a double celebration with his wife Marjorie: his graduation from Annapolis and their wedding day, 1926. She never remarried after his loss. For 20 years after the loss of SHARK she continued to express the hope that he was on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific waiting for rescue.

The future commander SHARK, Louis Shane, Jr. He is pictured here in what would be a double celebration with his wife Marjorie: his graduation from Annapolis and their wedding day, 1926. She never remarried after his loss. For 20 years after the loss of SHARK she continued to express the hope that he was on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific waiting for rescue.

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