United States R-class submarine

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For other ship classes of the same name, see British R class submarine and Italian R class submarine.
R-class submarines
Tied up along the dock from right to left: R-12 (SS-89), R-15 (SS-92), R-13 (SS-90) with R-9 (SS-86) and an unidentified R-boat probably in Pearl Harbor, c. mid 1920s.
Class overview
Builders: Fore River Shipyard (R-1 to R-14)
Union Iron Works (R-15 to R-20)
Lake Torpedo Boat (R-21 to R-27)
Electric Boat (4 boats for Peru)
Operators:  United States Navy
 Peruvian Navy
 Royal Navy
Preceded by: O-class submarine
Succeeded by: S-class submarine
Built: 1917-1919
In commission: 1918-1931, 1940-1945
Completed: 27
Lost: 2
Retired: 25
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: Group 1:
569 long tons (578 t) surfaced
680 long tons (691 t) submerged
Group 2:
510 long tons (518 t) surfaced
583 long tons (592 t) submerged
Length: Group 1: 186 ft 2 in (56.74 m)
Group 2: 175 ft (53 m)
Beam: Group 1: 18 ft 1 in (5.51 m)
Group 2: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
Draft: Group 1: 14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)
Group 2: 13 ft 11 in (4.24 m)
Propulsion: Group 1:
2 × 600 hp (447 kW) NELSECO diesel engines
2 × 467 hp (348 kW) Electro Dynamic Co. electric motors
2 x 60-cell batteries
2 x shafts
Group 2:
2 × 500 hp (373 kW) Busch-Sulzer diesel engines
2 × 400 hp (298 kW) Diehl electric motors
2 x 60-cell batteries
2 x shafts
Speed: Group 1:
13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph) surfaced
10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) submerged
Group 2:
14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced
11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) submerged
Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
Complement: 30 officers and men
Armament: Group 1:
4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 8 torpedoes
1 × 3 inch (76 mm)/50 caliber deck gun
Group 2:
4 × 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes, 8 torpedoes
1 × 3 inch (76 mm)/50 caliber deck gun

The R-class submarines were a class of United States Navy submarines active from 1918 until 1945. With the first of the class laid down following the American entry into World War I, they were built rapidly, but none were completed until after the Armistice.

Design[edit]

Group 1
The R-1 thru R-20 boats, designed by Electric Boat and built by Fore River Shipyard and Union Iron Works, were known as the "R-1 class" submarines . These single-hull boats were structurally very similar to the preceding O-class, but larger and therefore with more powerful machinery to maintain the required speed. For the first time in a US submarine class, 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes were fitted, a tube diameter that is still standard worldwide. A more powerful fixed 3 inch (76 mm)/50 caliber deck gun replaced the retractable 3"/23 caliber gun found on previous classes.[1]
Group 2
R-21 to R-27, which were slightly smaller and faster than the R-1s, were designed and built by Lake Torpedo Boat Co. and are sometimes regarded as a separate class, the "R-21 class." Compared with the Lake-designed O-class group, these featured a double hull and had their diving planes more conventionally positioned fore and aft, but retained the Lake O-class' characteristic wide stern and 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes. They were equipped with the same 3"/50 deck gun as the Group 1 boats. Their smaller size compared with Group 1 allowed Lake to repeat the machinery of their O-class boats, which probably resulted in cost savings. Some Group 2 boats were fitted with a bow fairing to improve reserve buoyancy. This probably housed expanded ballast tanks. Unlike the Group 1 boats, most of which survived to serve in World War II, the Group 2 boats were scrapped in 1930 as part of the Navy's compliance with the London Naval Treaty. The Lake company's demise in 1924 and the obsolescent 18-inch torpedo armament probably also contributed to this.[2][3]

Service[edit]

The Group 1 boats were decommissioned in 1931, but were recommissioned in 1940 to serve as training boats at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut. Three (R-3, R-17, and R-19) were transferred to the United Kingdom's Royal Navy as HMS P.511, HMS P.512, and HMS P.514 in 1941-1942. P.514 was lost on 21 June 1942 in a collision with the Canadian minesweeper HMCS Georgian due to being mistaken for a U-boat. R-12 was lost on 12 June 1943 in an accident off Key West, Florida.

At some point between the wars the US R-class were modified for improved rescue ability in the event of sinking. A motor room hatch was added, the motor room being the aftermost compartment. The tapered after casing became a step as a result of this modification.[4]

At least one R-class submarine can be seen briefly in the 1943 movie Crash Dive, filmed at the New London submarine base.

Electric Boat built four "R Class" boats for the Peruvian Navy (R-1 to R-4). Built after World War I using materials assembled from cancelled S-class submarines, they were refitted in 1935–36 and 1955–56, and renamed Islay, Casma, Pacocha, and Arica in 1957. They were discarded in 1960.

Ships in class[edit]

The 27 submarines of the R-class were:

Group 1 (Electric Boat design)

Ship name and Hull no. Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
USS R-1 (SS-78) Fore River Shipbuilding 16 October 1917 24 August 1918 16 December 1918 20 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-2 (SS-79) Fore River Shipbuilding 16 October 1917 23 September 1918 24 January 1919 10 May 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-3 (SS-80) Fore River Shipbuilding 11 December 1917 18 January 1919 17 April 1919 transferred to United Kingdom 4 November 1941 Scrapped 1948
USS R-4 (SS-81) Fore River Shipbuilding 16 October 1917 26 October 1918 28 March 1919 18 June 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-5 (SS-82) Fore River Shipbuilding 16 October 1917 24 November 1918 15 April 1919 14 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-6 (SS-83) Fore River Shipbuilding 17 December 1917 1 March 1919 1 May 1919 27 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-7 (SS-84) Fore River Shipbuilding 6 December 1917 5 April 1919 1 May 1919 14 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-8 (SS-85) Fore River Shipbuilding 4 March 1918 17 April 1919 21 July 1919 2 May 1931, sank at moorings 1936 Raised and expended as target 1936
USS R-9 (SS-86) Fore River Shipbuilding 6 March 1918 24 May 1919 30 July 1919 25 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-10 (SS-87) Fore River Shipbuilding 21 March 1918 28 June 1919 20 August 1919 18 June 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-11 (SS-88) Fore River Shipbuilding 18 March 1918 21 July 1919 5 September 1919 5 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-12 (SS-89) Fore River Shipbuilding 28 March 1918 15 August 1919 23 September 1919 Lost 12 June 1943, cause unknown
USS R-13 (SS-90) Fore River Shipbuilding 27 March 1918 27 August 1919 17 October 1919 14 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-14 (SS-91) Fore River Shipbuilding 6 November 1918 10 October 1919 24 December 1919 7 May 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-15 (SS-92) Union Iron Works 30 April 1917 10 December 1917 27 July 1918 17 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-16 (SS-93) Union Iron Works 26 April 1917 15 December 1917 5 August 1918 16 July 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-17 (SS-94) Union Iron Works 5 May 1917 24 December 1917 18 August 1918 transferred to United Kingdom 9 March 1942 Scrapped 1945
USS R-18 (SS-95) Union Iron Works 16 June 1917 8 January 1918 11 September 1918 19 September 1945 Scrapped 1946
USS R-19 (SS-96) Union Iron Works 23 June 1917 28 January 1918 7 October 1918 transferred to United Kingdom 9 March 1942 Lost in a collision 21 June 1942
USS R-20 (SS-97) Union Iron Works 4 June 1917 21 January 1918 26 October 1918 27 September 1945 Scrapped 1946

Group 2 (Lake Torpedo Boat Company design)

Ship name and Hull no. Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
USS R-21 (SS-98) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 19 April 1917 10 July 1918 17 June 1919 21 June 1924 Scrapped 1930
USS R-22 (SS-99) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 19 April 1917 23 September 1918 1 August 1919 29 April 1925 Scrapped 1930
USS R-23 (SS-100) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 25 April 1917 5 November 1918 23 October 1919 25 April 1925 Scrapped 1930
USS R-24 (SS-101) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 9 May 1917 21 August 1918 27 June 1919 11 June 1925 Scrapped 1930
USS R-25 (SS-102) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 26 April 1917 15 May 1919 23 October 1919 21 June 1924 Scrapped 1930
USS R-26 (SS-103) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 26 April 1917 18 June 1919 23 October 1919 12 June 1925 Scrapped 1930
USS R-27 (SS-104) Lake Torpedo Boat Co. 16 May 1917 23 September 1918 3 September 1919 24 April 1925 Scrapped 1930

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gardiner, p. 130
  2. ^ Gardiner, p. 130
  3. ^ Pigboats.com R-boats page
  4. ^ Pigboats.com R-boats page

See also[edit]

Media related to R class submarines of the United States at Wikimedia Commons