The USS Plunger was a Porpoise-class submarine laid down on July 17, 1935, and launched on July 8, the following year. It was commissioned on November 19, 1936, under Lt. George L. Russell’s command with the hull number SS-179 and it served in the US Navy for 9 years before it was decommissioned on November 15, 1945. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 73 people on board and had its main missions in New London, San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Guantanamo Bay, and Alaska. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy Register on July 6, 1956, and purchased for scrapping by Bethlehem Steel Corporation the following year. For the service brought to the country during World War II, the USS Plunger received 14 battle stars.
U.S. Navy vessels built prior to 1980 were full of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos materials were mainly used as insulation in the engine room, boiler rooms, mess halls, navigation rooms, sleeping quarters, and other common areas of the ship. Due to this, many veterans later developed mesothelioma and other serious asbestos-related conditions.