William J. Sharkey was born in Auburn on 20 March 1885. After a period of service as chief gunners mate, he was appointed ensign on 15 March 1918 and was assigned to the submarine service. On 5 October of that year, Lt. (j.g.) Sharkey reported fumes in the after-battery room of the submarine USS O-5, and was killed while attempting to prevent the explosion that followed. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service. The Navy honored him again with the launch of the USS Sharkey on 12 August 1919. The ship was commissioned on 28 November of that year and continued in the service of the Navy until decommissioned on 1 May 1930.