Built in 1939 by the Electric Boat Company, the submarine was the first to be named after the mackerel. It received multiple awards for World War II service, including the American Defense Service Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Due to the time period, it was laid down, the USS Mackerel may have had asbestos wall insulation, which represented a health risk for the people serving on it. The USS Mackerel was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1945 and sold for scrapping to the North American Smelting Company in Pennsylvania 2 years later.
Asbestos is a durable mineral that was extensively used on ships of all kinds until the mid-1970s when it became widely known that the substance can cause mesothelioma - cancer in the lungs with a high fatality rate. In shipbuilding, asbestos was primarily used as insulation for piping. Cutting asbestos insulation to fit piping releases particles into the air, which would allow workers to inhale the particles while on the job.