USS Shark (Schooner), 1821-46
Built at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., the schooner, USS Shark, was launched on May 17, 1821. Departing that July to suppress the slave trade and piracy, she also transported Dr. Eli Ayers to the west coast of Africa. The following year, she joined the West Indies Squadron and claimed Key West, Florida, for the United States on March 25, 1822. Shark spent the next 11 years operating in West Indies and combatting the slave trade. Arriving in the Mediterranean in 1833, she spent the next five years protecting American commerce. In July 1839, Shark became the first U.S. Navy warship to pass through the Straits of Magellan from east to west that December for duty in the Pacific, which was spent off Peru and travels to Panama. Following repairs in April 1846 at Honolulu, Hawaii, Shark was sent to perform an exploratory voyage up the Columbia River from Oregon. During her return trip on September 10, she struck an unchartered shoal at the river's mouth and was swept into breaks by a swift tide. Shark was a total loss, but her entire crew was saved and reached San Francisco on January 27, 1847.
A model of Shark can be found in the Anti-Slave Trade Patrols section at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Image: NH 1332: USS Shark in the Mediterranean, 1836-38. Artwork from an original watercolor by Francois Roix. NHHC Photograph Collection.