The USS Whale (SS-239), a Gato-class submarine, was launched on 14 March 1942, sponsored by Mrs. A. D. Denny, wife of Captain A. D. Denny, the commanding officer of the shipyard), and commissioned on 1 June 1942, with Lieutenant Commander John B. Azer in command. Having conducted 11 war patrols and sunk 57,716 tons of Japanese shipping, the USS Whale was built in 1941 by Mare Island Naval Shipyard and earned 11 battle stars for World War II service. In 1946, the USS Whale was decommissioned and later sold for scrapping.
Despite the successful activity of the submarine, the people who were serving on it were in great danger due to the asbestos wall insulation present on it. Exposure to this carcinogen occurs by inhaling or ingesting airborne fibers, which subsequently embed themselves in the lining of various organs in the body.