The USS Tambor (SS-198) was the lead ship of her class of submarine and the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tambor. She was launched on 20 December 1939 and commissioned on 3 June 1940 with Lieutenant Commander John M. Murphy, Jr. in command. The ship went on twelve war patrols before being decommissioned on 10 December 1945, in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and placed in reserve. In April 1947, the submarine was assigned to the Ninth Naval District to train naval reservists. The ship remained on this station until 1959 when a Board of Inspection and Survey found her unfit for further naval service. The Tambor was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 September and sold for scrap. For her service, during World War II the Tambor received 11 battle stars.
Like most of the ships from her time, the USS Tambor was laden with asbestos-containing materials. Back in her time, the dangers of asbestos exposure were not so widely known so the toxic material was used in nearly every part of the ship, from bow to stern. This placed veterans at high risk for mesothelioma and other serious respiratory illnesses.