(Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 8: dp. 107; l. 63'10"; b. 11'11"; dr. 10'7"; s. 8 k. (surf.), 7 k. (subm.); cpl. 7; a. 1 18" tt; cl. Plunger)
The submarine torpedo boat A-7 was originally laid down as Shark (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 8) on 11 January 1901 at Elizabethport, N.J., by the Crescent Shipyard of Lewis Nixon, a subcontractor for the John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co. of New York; launched on 19 October 1901; and sponsored by Mrs. Walter Stevens Turpin, wife of Lt. Comdr. Walter S. Turpin, an officer on duty at Crescent Shipyard. Built with a hull of manganese bronze, Shark was equipped and outfitted at the Holland yard at New Suffolk, N.Y., and was commissioned there on 19 September 1903, Lt. Charles P. Nelson in command.
Over the next three and a half years, Shark operated locally at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, conducting firing tests with torpedoes, and participating in early research and development efforts in the field of undersea warfare. Assigned to the
First Submarine Flotilla in March 1907, Shark was stationed at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., in the spring of 1907.
Taken to the New York Navy Yard in April 1908, the submarine torpedo boat was decommissioned there on the 21st of that month. Loaded on board the collier, Caesar, Shark and her sistership, Porpoise (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 7), comprised the auxiliary's deck cargo as she proceeded, via Suez, for the Philippine Islands. Shark was launched soon after her arrival at Cavite in July and was recommissioned on 14 August 1908.
Over the next several years, the submarine torpedo boat operated out of Cavite, interspersing training with periodic upkeep and repair work. On 17 November 1911, Shark was renamed A-7.
During World War I, A-7 and her sister ships based at Cavite, and carried out patrols of the entrance to Manila Bay. In the early spring of 1917, Lt. (j.g.) Arnold Marcus assumed command of A-7. On 24 July 1917, shortly after the submarine torpedo boat's engine had been overhauled, gasoline fumes ignited and caused an explosion and fire while in the course of a patrol in Manila Bay.
After Marcus and his men had battled the blaze, he ordered the crew topside and into the boats that had been summoned alongside. The last man to emerge from the interior of the crippled submersible, Marcus sent up distress signals to the nearby monitor Monadnock, and then took the helm himself in an attempt to beach the ship. He refused medical treatment until all his men had been attended to (six later died) and had to be ordered to leave his post. The gallant Marcus died the next day, 25 July 1917, of the effects of the explosion and fire that had ravaged his command. The Navy recognized this young officer's selfless heroism in naming a ship, Marcus (Destroyer No. 321), in his honor.
Placed in ordinary at Cavite on 1 April 1918, A-7 was decommissioned as of 12 December 1919. Given the alphanumeric hull number SS-8 on 17 July 1920, A-7—initially advertised for sale in the 16th Naval District—was subsequently authorized for use as a target in 1921. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 January 1922.