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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Shark (I)

  • Built at Washington Navy Yard
  • Launched, 17 May 1821
  • Commissioned, USS Shark in June 1821 at Washington Navy Yard, LT. Mathew C. Perry in command
  • USS Sharks' first assignment in July 1821 was to transport DR. Eli Ayers to Sierra Leone in west Africa
  • Shark returned by way of the West Indies to New York, 17 January 1822
  • Assigned to the West Indies Squadron, sailing 26 February 1822
  • 25 March 1822, LT. Perry took formal possession of what is now Key West, FL.
  • Shark was next assigned to another cruise off the coast of Africa, returning to Norfolk, 12 December 1822
  • The ship returned to duty with the West Indies Squadron in February 1823
  • Returned to New York for repairs, 9 July 1823
  • Sailed from New York 5 October to determine if the area at Key West was fit as a place to establish a naval base
  • Returned to Norfolk, 16 November 1823 to debark the survey party
  • Repaired at New York, 13 May to 5 October 1825, returning to duty in the West Indies
  • Returned to Norfolk, 29 August 1826
  • Shark departed Norfolk, 28 November 1826, proceeding to the west coast of Africa to ensure liberated slaves were safely established at Liberia
  • Returned to New York, 6 July 1827
  • Shark next sailed 24 July 1827, to the Newfoundland fisheries to defend American interests
  • The ship next resumed her duties in the West Indies in October 1827
  • Reassigned to the Mediterranean in 1833
  • Returning to Norfolk, 24 March 1838
  • Shark next sailed for duty with the Pacific Squadron, 22 July 1839
  • USS Shark passed thorough the Strait of Magellan from east to west, 13 December 1839, becoming the first United States man-of-war to do so
  • For the next five years the ship spent most of her time along the coast of Peru to protect American citizens from civil disturbances
  • Shark overhauled at Honolulu before conducting an exploratory voyage up the Columbia River
  • Final Disposition, when re-crossing the bar at the mouth of the river, 19 September 1846, while outbound to sea Shark struck an uncharted shoal and was swept into the breakers by a swift tide. The ship was a total loss but her crew was saved.
    Displacement 198 t.
    Length 86'
    Beam 24' 7"
    Depth 10' 4"
    Draft unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 70
    ten 18-pdr carronades
    two 9-pdr guns
    Propulsion sail

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Shark 92k Drawing by J.M. Caiella of the hull of USS Shark Tommy Trampp
    United States 76k Watercolor by Gunner William H. Myers, of USS Cyane, showing the Squadron's ships sailing in line abreast, 1842-43. Ships are (from left to right): USS United States, USS Cyane (II), USS Saint Louis (I), USS Yorktown (I) and USS Shark (I) Copied from Journal of a Cruise on the USS Cyane, 1842-1843, by William H. Myers.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 54488
    Tommy Trampp
    Shark 501k Watercolor of USS Shark under way, by David Harrison Wright. From the Key West Maritime Historical Society. Tommy Trampp
    Shark 273k USS Shark circa 1846, U.S. Navy photo.
    Image from Flickr courtesy of Florida Keys Public Libraries photo # MM00000860x.
    Robert Hurst
    Shark 214k BW Photo of a watercolor of USS Shark crossing the bar at Lisbon, Portugal, by James Evans.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 108763
    Tommy Trampp
    Shark 117k Cannon recovered from the wreck of USS Shark. From the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum, Oregon. Tommy Trampp
    NH 42838
    71k Model of the schooner USS Shark built by Eliphalet Remington, Cazenovia Ship Studio, in 1937, for Miss Jane Perry Tiffany, granddaughter of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. She presented the model to the Naval Historical Foundation in October 1939. Photographed in October 1939.
    U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # NH 42838.
    Robert Hurst
    NH 42839
    NH 42837
    Shark 233k Model of the schooner USS Shark at the U.S. Navy Museum, taken, 27 December 2011, by Sturmvogel 66 (real name unknown). Robert Hurst

    USS Shark (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    The Original Cannon and the US Navy Schooner Shark
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 3 December 2021