United States G-class submarine

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USS G-1 soon after launching, in 1911
Class overview
Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding Company (G-1)
Lake Torpedo Boat (G-2 & G-3)
William Cramp and Sons (G-4)
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: F-class submarine
Succeeded by: H-class submarine
Built: 1909–1913
In commission: 1912–1921
Completed: 4
Retired: 4
Preserved: 0
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: 360–400 long tons (366–406 t) surfaced
457–516 long tons (464–524 t) submerged
Length: 157–161 ft (48–49 m)
Beam: 13–17 ft (4.0–5.2 m)
Draft: 11–12 ft (3.4–3.7 m)
Propulsion: Gasoline-electric (G-1, G-2, G-4)
Diesel-electric (G-3)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced
9.5–10 knots (17.6–18.5 km/h; 10.9–11.5 mph) submerged
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
70 nmi (130 km) at 5 kn (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
Complement: 24-26 officers and men
Armament: 4-6 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes
6-10 torpedoes

The G class submarines were a class of four United States Navy submarines. While the four G-boats were nominally all of a class, they differed enough in significant details that they are sometimes considered to be four unique boats, each in a class by herself. They were the result of agitation (presumably from industry and Congress) for competition in submarine design; all previous US submarines were designed by Electric Boat.[1] G-1, G-2, and G-3 were designed by Simon Lake of the Lake Torpedo Boat Company, while G-4 was designed by American Laurenti. G-1 was built by Newport News, G-2 and G-3 by Lake (completed at the New York Navy Yard due to Lake's temporary dissolution), and G-4 by Cramp.[2]


G-1, G-2, and G-4 were the last gasoline-powered submarines in the US Navy. The Lake-designed G-1 was equipped with three sets of diving planes spaced along the midships part of the hull, and no bow planes. This was to facilitate level diving, which Lake thought was safer than the angle diving of the numerous Electric Boat designs. During World War I, G-1 and G-2 were fitted with "chariot" bridge shields for improved surface operation in rough weather, although they were not deployed overseas.

G-1 was essentially a private venture that the Navy did not initially request; a result was that her hull number of SS-19½ was in between D-3 and F-1. By the time the Navy's designation system was overhauled in 1920, F-1 had been lost, so G-1 became SS-20 at that time.[3] G-1 had six 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes: two in the bow, and four in two twin trainable mounts in the superstructure. These mounts could only fire abeam, not dead ahead or dead astern.

G-2 had four 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes: two bow internal, one bow external, and one stern external, with 8 torpedoes. She was the first US submarine with a stern tube. A preliminary drawing shows four engines installed, in tandem, probably with a clutch between them. This would likely create severe vibrations in operation, as it would be impossible to perfectly synchronize the engines, a problem the later AA-1-class submarines experienced.[4][5][6]

G-3 had six 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes: two bow internal, two bow external, and two stern external, with 10 torpedoes. She was the only one of the class with diesel engines. While being completed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard she was fitted with sponsons to improve stability.[7][8]

G-4 had two bow and two stern 18 inch (457 mm) internal torpedo tubes, with 8 torpedoes. Four engines were installed, in tandem as in G-2, except there was no clutch between them. This created severe vibrations in operation, as it would be impossible to perfectly synchronize the engines, a problem the later AA-1-class submarines experienced.[9][10][11]


  • USS G-1 (SS-19½) was launched as Seal on 9 February 1911, but renamed G-1 on 17 November 1911. She was commissioned on 28 October 1912. Decommissioned 6 March 1920, redesignated SS-20 that year. Sunk as a target near Taylor's Point, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island by USS Grebe (AM-43) 21 June 1921. The wreck may still exist.[12]
  • USS G-2 (SS-27) (originally Tuna) was renamed G-2 on 17 November 1911 and launched on 10 January 1912. She was commissioned on 1 December 1913. Decommissioned 2 April 1919 and used as a target; sank at her moorings in Two Tree Channel, Niantic, Connecticut 30 July 1919. The wreck may still exist.[13]
  • USS G-3 (SS-31) (originally Turbot) was renamed G-3 on 17 November 1911 and launched on 27 December 1913. She was commissioned on 22 March 1915. Decommissioned on 5 May 1921 and scrapped in 1922.[14]
  • USS G-4 (SS-26) (originally Thrasher) was renamed G-4 on 17 November 1911 and launched on 15 August 1912. She was commissioned on 22 January 1914. Decommissioned on 5 September 1919 and scrapped in 1921.[15]


  1. ^ Gardiner, p. 128
  2. ^ Gardiner, p. 128
  3. ^ Gardiner, p. 128
  4. ^ Friedman, p. 61-64
  5. ^ Pigboats.com G-boats page
  6. ^ DANFS USS G-2 entry
  7. ^ Friedman, p. 63-65
  8. ^ Pigboats.com G-boats page
  9. ^ Friedman, p. 64-68
  10. ^ Pigboats.com G-boats page
  11. ^ DANFS USS G-4 entry
  12. ^ "G-1". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "G-2". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "G-3". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "G-4". Retrieved 20 January 2014. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

See also[edit]

Media related to G class submarines at Wikimedia Commons