As we approach the millennium, we also approach the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Naval Submarine Force. This anniversary is dated from both April 11, 1900 when the Navy bought its first modem submarine, and 11 October 1900, the commissioning date for USS HOLLAND. She is the first of an unbroken line of commissioned submarines that have served our country. (The first submarine the U.S. Navy owned, however, was taken into service on 13 June 1862 and made one wartime deployment.) Only cruisers, as an existing commissioned ship type have a longer history. It is fitting that we look at some of the numbers and milestones. These, then, are a few data points for this anniversary.
We have laid down 678 hulls; of these, we have commissioned 663 (if the yet unnamed SSN 23 is commissioned by 1 October 2000). This number includes U-3008 or U-2513 which were taken into service and commissioned, but does not include NR-1 which is not commissioned. To classify the types of submarines by their propulsion method, 22 used gasoline engine/electric motor, 448 used diesel engine/electric motor, 191 use nuclear propulsion plants and one used hydrogen peroxide. The number of attack submarines remaining in commission as of 1 October 2000 will be approximately 50. The oldest submarine still in commission will most likely be USS DOLPHIN (SS 555) and the oldest nuclear submarine still in service is, and will be for some time to come, NR-1. The oldest nuclear submarine in commission will pass quickly from boat to boat as we decrease fleet size.
The operational capabilities of our Force can be conveniently looked at by dividing our history into a beginning, mid-point and today: 1900, 1950 and 2000. The most advanced submarine of 1900 was the Holland class, of 1950 was the Tench class (Tangs weren’t commissioned until 1951 and after), and today is the Seawolf class. A Tench with the Guppy II conversion could travel as fast submerged as a Holland could travel on the surface. Seawolfs submerged maximum speed is said to be nearly twice as fast while submerged as the Tench class was on the surface. The Hollands could engage a single target at a range of about 1000 yards. A Tench could engage multiple targets (in convoy) at a
range approaching 10,000 yards. The Seawolf can engage multiple targets at a range of 100 miles with missiles (or nearly 1000 miles with Tomahawks)f The fleet ballistic submarines of the Ohio class can engage entire countries at a range of 4000 miles.
U.S. submarines have taken an active role in three major wars. A submarine goes on patrol wherein often, but not always, the boat acts as an independent or semi-independent warship. These patrols may be offensive, defensive, surveillance, barrier, strategic deterrent or special operations. The first documented sortie of the Submarine Force for deployment under wartime conditions was in August 1913 in Manila Bay, RPI. Since then the Force has amassed the following totals: WWI patrols, 157; WWII patrols, 1693. Classification considerations have effectively halted all historic research on any submarine operational history after 1945, however, there are 15 Cold War patrols unclassified and available for researchers. During the period of the Cold War (1946 to 1991) we have made at least 3500 strategic deterrent patrols and an unknown number of surveillance and barrier patrols. In addition, during the major campaigns in this war. Korea and Viet Nam for example, we have made many offensive, defensive and special operations patrols. During the Gulf War, we made offensive patrols in the war zone and took an active part in hositilities. We have come a long way, but at a prodigious cost.
In these wars, many awards and honors have been bestowed on submariners or on men who serviced the boats. In the 100 year history of the Submarine Force, 14 members of the Force and its support force have received the highest medal awarded by the United States for courage and bravery. Seven were awarded to officers for gallantry in wartime. These recipients are Captain John Cromwell, Commander Samuel Dealey, Commander Eugene Fluckey, Commander Richard O’Kane, Commander Howard Gilmore, Commander Lawson Ramage, and Commander George Street. One Medal of Honor was awarded to an enlisted crewman. Torpedoman Henry Berault of USS O-5 was awarded the medal for his heroic actions in the sinking of that vessel in 1923. Six Medals of Honor were awarded to men who risked their lives in efforts to save the crews of submarines. These men are: GMC Frank Crilley, TMl John Mihalowski, GMl Watler E. Harman, MMC William Badders, GMC Thomas Eadie, BMC Orson L. Crandall.
The standard number that comes to the mind of many, and indeed the public, of submarine losses in the U.S. Navy is 52. This figure comes from a document published after World War II entitled Submaripe Report, Depth Charge. Bomb. Mine, Torpedo, and Gunfire Damage Including Losses in Action. In this report are listed the 52 submarines lost during the period 7 December 1941 to 15 August 1945. This list of 52 has been memorialized by the Submarine Veteram of WWD and in the years since the end of the war, has become the standard answer to bow many boats were lost. The listing includes those boats lost with the loss of all hands, with some survivors, with all the crew as survivors, boats scuttled, and boats abandoned. However, for the entire history of the Force, the list is longer. In fact, using the criteria of the WWD list, we have lost (16 submarines. And an additional six have been lost while in the service of foreign navies and four have been lost due to special circumstances. This gives a total of 76 submarines built by and commissioned in the U.S. Navy which have been lost to service. This is over 10 percent of the submarines we have commissioned.
The following is a list of those submarines lost during the 100 year history of the Force.
Category I-Lost with all hands (45 submarines)
USS F-4 (SS 21) was lost on 21 March 1915 with the loss of 19 officers and men when it foundered off Honolulu Harbor.
USS S-4 (SS 109) was lost on 17 December 1927 with the loss of 34 officers and men when it was sunk after ramming by USCG PAULDING.
USS 0-9 (SS 70) was lost on 20 June 1941 with the loss of 34 officers and men when it foundered off Isle of Shoals, 15 miles from Portsmouth, NH, 42°-59′-48″N, 70′-20′-27″W.
USS S-26 (SS 131) was lost on 24 January 1942 with the loss of 46 officers and men when it was sunk after ramming by USS
PC-460 in the Gulf of Panama, 14 miles west of San Jose Light.
USS SHARK (SS 174) was lost on 11 February 1942 with the loss of 59 officers and men when it was sunk East of Menado, Celebes as a result of one of three attacks. (11Feb42 E of Menado, 17 Feb42 N of Kendari, 21Feb42 E of Kendari).
USS GRUNION (SS 216) was lost on 1 August 1942 with the loss of 70 officers and men when it was sunk near entrance to Kiska (Alaska) Harbor. (Ed. Note: See article by CDR Alden in -this issue.)
USS ARGONAUT (SS 166) was lost on 10 January 1943 with the loss of 84 officers and men when it was sunk off Rabaul near 05 155N 153 5OE; (another location given as 5° 40S 152° 02E).
USS AMBERJACK (SS 219) was lost on 16 February 1943 with the loss of 72 officers and men when it was sunk off Rabaul; last contact at S0 OSS 152° 37E.
USS GRAMPUS (SS 207) was lost on S March 1943 with the loss of 72 officers and men when it was sunk in the Blackett Strait; possibly in Vella Gulf, last contacts at 4° SSS 152° 30E.
USS TRITON (SS 201) was lost on l5 March 1943 with the loss of 74 officers and men when it was sunk at 00 09N 144° SS E.
USS PICKEREL (SS 177) was lost on 3 April 1943 with the loss of 74 officers and men when it was sunk within lume of Shiramuka Light off Honshu (aka Shiranuka Light).
USS R-12 (SS 89) was lost on 12 June 1943 with the loss of 42 officers and men when it foundered off Key West, 24° 24’30″N 81° 28’30”.
USS RUNNER (SS 275) was lost on 1 July 1943 with the loss of 78 officers and men when it was sunk somewhere between Midway and Hokkaido.
USS PAMPANO (SS 181) was lost on 1 September 1943 with the loss of 76 officers and men when it was sunk off the northeast coast of Honshu.
USS GRAYLING (SS 209) was lost on 9 September 1943 with the loss of 76 officers and men when it was sunk in or near Tablas Strait, PI.
USS CISCO (SS 290) was lost on 28 September 1943 with the loss of 76 officers and men when it was sunk in Sulu Sea west of Mindinao, 9° 47N, 121° 44E.
USS WAHOO (SS 238) was lost on 11 October 1943 with the loss of 79 officers and men when it was sunk in or near La Perouse Strait.
USS DORADO (SS 248) was lost on 12 October 1943 with the loss of78 officers and men when it was sunk in Western Atlantic, possibly near Cuba.
USS CORVINA (SS226) was lost on 16 November 1943 with the loss of 82 officers and men when it was sunk south of Truk (attack at 151° lOE 5° SON).
USS CAPELIN (SS 289) was lost on 1 December 1943 with the loss of76 officers and men when it was sunk off Celebes possibly off Kaoe Bay; Halmabera 1° 34N 123° 07 or in Molukka Passage.
USS SCORPION (SS 278) was lost on 1 February 1944 with the loss of 77 officers and men when it was sunk East China Sea.
USS GRAYBACK (SS 208) was lost on 26 February 1944 with the loss of 80 officers and men when it was sunk near 25° 47N 128° 4SE.
USS TROUT (SS 202) was lost on 29 February 1944 with the loss of 79 officers and men when it was sunk near 22° 40N, 131° 4SE, middle of Philippines Basin.
USS GUDGEON (SS 211) was lost on 12 May 1944 with the Joss of 80 officers and men when it was sunk off Saipan near Maug Island.
USS HERRING (SS 233) was Jost on 1 June 1944 with the loss of 80 officers and men when it was sunk within shore battery range of Point Tagan, Matsuwa Island, in Kurlies.
USS S-28 (SS 133) was lost on 4 June 1944 with the loss of 50 officers and men when it foundered off Hawaii, while operating with USCGC RELIANCE.
USS GOLET (SS 360) was lost on 14 June 1944 with the loss of 82 officers and men when it was sunk near 41° 04N 14° 13E.
USS GROWLER (SS 215) was lost on 8 July 1944 with the loss of 84 officers and men when it was sunk in South China Sea.
USS ROBALO (SS 273) was lost on 26 July 1944 with the loss of 84 officers and men when it was sunk 2 miles off west coast of Palawan.
USS HARDER (SS 257) was lost on 24 August 1944 with the loss of 80 officers and men when it was sunk off Caiman Point near Bataan.
USS ESCOLAR (SS 294) was lost on 1 October 1944 with the loss of 82 officers and men when it was sunk somewhere east of 33-44N 127-33E; heading for 33° 44N 124° 06E.
USS SHARK (SS 314) was lost on 24 October 1944 with the loss of 90 officers and men when it was sunk in channel midway between Hainan and Bashi Channel; 200 41N 118° 27E.
USS SEAWOLF (SS 197) was lost on 30 October 1944 with the loss of 102 officers and men when it was sunk just north of Morotai, between PI and Indonesia, by USS ROWELL; 02°-32N 129° 18E.
USS ALBACORE (SS 218) was lost on 7 November 1944 with the loss of 86 officers and men when it was sunk near 41° 49N 141° 11E in channel between Hokkaido and Honshu.
USS SCAMP (SS 277) was lost on 16 November 1944 with the loss of 83 officers and men when it was sunk off Inubo Saki near Tokyo Bay.
USS BARBEL (SS 316) was lost on 4 February 1945 with the loss of 81 officers and men when it was sunk in southern entrance to Palawan Passage 7° 49.SS – 116° 47.5 SW Palawan
USS SWORDFISH (SS 193) was lost on 15 February 1945 with the loss of 90 officers and men when it was sunk near Yaku Island off Kyushu, water <600 feet deep near island; (27° OON; 128° 40E). USS KETE (SS 369) was lost on 1 March 1945 with the loss of 87 officers and men when it was sunk somewhere between 29° 38N 1300 02E and Midway.
USS TRIGGER (SS 237) was lost on 28 March 1945 with the loss of 91 officers and men when it was sunk in area 32° 16N to 30° 40N by 132° OSE to 127° SOE, (maybe near 32° 16 N 132° OSE).
USS SNOOK (SS 279) was lost on 8 Aril 1945 with the loss of 84 officers and men when it was sunk within 100 miles east of 18 40N 111 39E, near Hainan Island < 300 feet. USS LAGARTO (SS 371) was lost on 30 May 1945 with the loss of 88 officers and men when it was sunk off Malay Coast in or near the Gulf of Siam 7° 55N 102° OOE.
USS BONEFISH (SS 223) was lost on 18 June 1945 with the loss of 86 officers and men when it was sunk in Toyama Was; near Suzu Misaki; 37° 18 N 137° 25E.
USS BULLHEAD (SS 332) was lost on 6 August 1945 with the loss of 84 officers and men when it was sunk in west end of Lombok Strait.
USS THRESHER (SSN 593) was lost on 10 April 1963 with the loss of 129 officers and men when it sunk while on sea trials near Isle of Shoals.
USS SCORPION (SSN 589) was lost on 27 May 1968 with the loss of 99 officers and men when it sunk while in transit from Med, west of Azores.
Category 2-Lost with some of the crew as survivors (14 submarines)
USS F-1 (SS 20) was lost on 17 December 1917 with the loss of 19 officers and men when it sunk after collision with F-3 off San Clemente.
USS H-1 (SS 28) was lost on 12 March 1920 with the loss of 4 officers and men when it grounded, Magdelena Bay, Mexico; sunk in 9 fathoms while being towed off.
USS 0-S (SS 66) was lost on 11 October 1923 with the loss of 2 officers and men when it sunk after collision with SS ABABGAREZ (United Fruit) off Panama Canal.
USS S-51 (SS 162) was lost on 25 September 1925 with the loss of 32 officers and men when it sunk after collision with SS CITY OF ROME off Block Island.
USS SQUALUS (SS 192) was lost on 23 May 1939 with the loss of 26 officers and men when it flooded and sank off Portsmouth, NH.
USS SEALION (SS 195) was lost on 10 December 1941 with the loss of 5 officers and men when it was scuttled in Manila Bay after damage at Cavite.
USS PERCH (SS 176) was lost on 3 March 1942 with the loss of 8 officers and men when it was sunk near 30 miles NW Soerabia, Java. (60 officers and men were taken prisoner, 52 survived the war.)
USS GRENADIER (SS 210) was lost on 22 April 1943 with the loss of 4 officers and men when it was sunk near Penang, 10 miles west of Lem Voalan Strait. (61 officers and men were taken prisoner, 57 survived the war.)
USS S-44 (SS 155) was lost on 7 October 1943 with the loss of 56 officers and men when it was sWlk on fifth patrol off Paramushiru, Kuriles (Northern); one day out of Attu. (2 men were taken prisoner, both survived the war.)
USS SCULPIN (SS 191) was Jost on 19 November 1943 with the loss of 40 officers and men when it was sunk north of Groluk Island near Truk. (42 officers and men were taken prisoner, only 21 survived the war.)
USS TULLIBEE (SS 284) was lost on 26 March 1944 with the loss of 79 officers and men when it was sunk in operating area just north of Palau. (1 man was taken prisoner and he survived the war.)
USS FLIER (SS 250) was lost on 13 September 1944 with the loss of 80 officers and men when it was sunk in Balabac Strait near Mantagule Island. (8 of the crew were taken prisoner, all survived the war.)
USS TANG (SS 306) was lost on 25 October 1944 with the loss of 83 officers and men when it was sunk in north end of Formosa Strait in vicinity of Turnabout Island. (9 of the crew were taken prisoner and survived the war.)
USS COCIDNO (SS 345) was lost on 26 August 1949 when it sank in Norwegian Sea after fire, 1 man from COCHINO and 6 men from USS TUSK were lost in the rescue operation.
Category 3-Lost with all crew as survivors (7 submarines)
The Civil War submarine ALLIGATOR was lost in 1863 when it sank while under tow off Cape Hatteras. It was being towed south to aid Union efforts in forcing entrance into Charleston Harbor. The crew was on board the towing vessel.
USS S-5 (SS 110) was lost on 1 September 1920 when it foundered off Delaware Capes 40 miles offshore. All the crew escaped through a hole cut in hull in the tiller room.
USS S-36 (SS 141) was lost on 20 January 1942 when it was destroyed after grounding on Taka Bakang Reef in Makassar Strait, Indonesia, near Makassar City. The crew were all rescued.
USS S-27(SS132) was lost on 19 June 1942 when it grounded off Amchitka Island, 400 yards off island near St. Makarius Point (near Constantine Harbor). All the crew were rescued.
USS S-39 (SS 144) was Jost on 1 August 1942 when it was destroyed after grounding on reef south of Rossel Island Louisande Archipelago. All the crew were rescued.
USS DARTER (SS 227) was lost on 24 October 1944 when it became grounded on Bombay Shoal off Palawan then was destroyed. All the crew were rescued by USS DACE.
USS STICKLEBACK (SS 415) was lost on 30 May 1958 when it sank off Hawaii while being towed, after collision with USS SILVERSTEIN (DE 534). All the crew were taken off prior to sinking.
Category 4-Lost while in foreign service (6 submarines)
USS S-25(SS130) was lost on 4 November 1941 with the loss of all hands when it was sunk by Allied escorts while on loan to Poland, off Norway.
USS R-19 (SS 96) was lost on 21 June 1942 with the loss of all hands when it was sunk after ramming by HMCS GEORGIAN while on lease to England.
USS BWWER (SS 235) was lost with the loss of all hands when it was sunk in Dardanelles in collision with Swedish ship NABOLAND (as Turkish submarine).
USS DIABLO (SS 479) was lost with the loss of all hands when it was sunk in Bay of Bengal (as Pakistani submarine), possibly due to mine explosion.
USS CATFlSH (SS 339) was lost on 1 July 1971 with the loss of an unknown number of officers and men when it was sunk (as Argentinian submarine SANT A FE) at South Georgia Island during Falkland War.
USS A TULE (SS 403) was lost with the loss of an unknown number of officers and men when it was sunk after ramming by a Japanese merchantman off Callao, Peru.
Category 5-Lost under special circumstance (4 submarines)
Ex-USS G-2 (SS 22) was lost on 30 July 1919 when it sank as a test vehicle for explosive tests. Sank with 3 men aboard in Two Tree Channel 1/4 mile off Pleasure Beach, CT; counted here due to loss of life.
USS BONEFISH (SS 582) was declared a functional loss after a fire in which 3 crewmen lost their lives.
USS NATHANIEL GREENE (SSBN 636) was reported decommissioned instead of repairing after grounding (to conform to SALT agreement).
USS SALMON (SS 182) was declared a constructive total loss after her last patrol due to severe damage and decommissioned on 24 September 1945.[Note: this last category may be incomplete.]
Of the submarines lost during wartime (includes Cold War 1946-1991):
Two foundered: S-28 and R-12
Four were sunk accidentally by friendly forces: SEA WOLF. F-1. DORADO, and S-26
Five were scuttled (four after grounding): SEALION. S-27. S36, S-39 and DARTER
Forty-five were sunk by direct enemy action or from unknown or accidental causes: S-44. ARGONAUT, SHARK(I). PERCH. PICKEREL, POMPANO. SCULPIN, SWORDFISH, TRITON, TROUT, GRAMPUS. GRA YBACK, GRA YLING, GRENADIER, GUDGEON,GROWLER,GRUNION,ALBACORE,AMBERJACK, BONEFISH, CORVINA, HERRING, TRIGGER, WAHOO, FLIER, HARDER, ROBALO, RUNNER, SCAMP. SCORPION, SNOOK, TULLIBEE, CAPELIN, CISCO, ESCOLAR, TANG, SHARK(Il), BARBEL, BULLHEAD, GOLET, KETE, LAGARTO, THRESHER, SCORPION, COCHINO.
The list above is only the list of the ships: the material part of the submarine equation. Sailing aboard submarines is a hazardous business. They operate in a hostile environment and do constant battle with the sea. On occasion, the sea wins. Sometimes all the crew dies, sometimes there are survivors. Many were lost during declared wartime when the sea is not the only enemy and sailing in harm’s way is a way of life. Others were lost when the sea was the only declared enemy but the hazards of maintaining peace required the submarines to be put to sea. In the 100 year history of the Submarine Force, over 4000 shipmates have given the “last full measure of devotion.” Most of the losses came in the years of World War II when we were in our second shooting war involving submarines. Unlike World War I, hundreds of boats went on patrol and many didn’t come home. In the period from 7 December 1941 to 15 August 1945, just over 3500 men of the Submarine Force died in all manner of actions starting with the bombs that dropped on Cavite; subs sank, men were washed overboard, men were wounded or killed in gunfights with enemy vessels or aircraft, and some gave their lives to save their ships.
The first submarine to be lost was in peacetime operations. She was F-4 in 1915. Our first wartime casualty in a combat zone was in WWI when, on 24 January 1918, GMl R.A. Leese went overboard and was lost from L-10 (SS 50) in the Eastern Atlantic. Over the long history of the Force, another 500 men died as a
result of accidents, sinkings, and hazards of the sea. This count does not even start to take into consideration those men who gave of themselves to such an extent that it cost them their health and then their lives. For some the pressures of the work, for whatever the reason, caused them to take their own lives. Some submariners died in the performance of their duty for the Force but not on submarines. Admiral English and his entire staff perished on a California hillside in a horrible plane crash in 1943. Fire fighters at Mare Island Shipyard gave their lives in the POMODON fire. In remembering the history of the Force, we must remember not only those whose names are engraved on WWII Memorial Walls.
The whole history is the tradition. The early submariners who survived the “green devil and fiery death” in the early boats with open battery cells and gasoline engines gave birth to the tradition of knowing the boat and trust in your shipmates. They taught the men who took little E boats and L boats across the Atlantic to search for German submarines in 1917 and 1918. These men made “on station, on time” the tradition. The men who tapped out “Please hurry” on the torpedo room hatch of S-4 gave us the impetus for a safer Submarine Force. World War II submarines showed the world what the United States Navy’s Submarine Force was all about and we have never taken second place to any naval power since. In Korea, submarines were sent to watch and wait, watch and report; and they did. This tradition of the surveillance patrol was fine tuned over the 50 years of the Cold War. The hazard of getting caught was very real and we were very lucky. For many submariners, the tradition was doing a thankless job over and over on hundreds of thousands of watches on strategic deterrent patrols. The tradition lives on.
At times it may seem to some that the submarine tradition consists only of the time they were actively involved in sailing submarines, or to others only the WWII years. It is quite normal that we remember our years as the most difficult and most demanding. Those sea stories we share about how bad it was or how tough it was are a part of the tradition. However, we owe to our shipmates who went before us a recognition that if it weren’t for their sacrifice, we might not have had as easy a career as we had. We also need to keep in mind that the job we leave to our successors could be every bit as hazardous as it was for us. It is only in this way, the tradition will live on.