United States S-class submarine

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USS S-44
S-class submarine S-44
Class overview
Builders: Electric Boat (design)
Fore River Shipyard
Union Iron Works
Portsmouth Navy Yard
Lake Torpedo Boat
Operators:  United States Navy
 Polish Navy
 Royal Navy
Preceded by: R-class submarine
Succeeded by: V-boats
Subclasses: Holland, Lake, Navy Yard, 2nd Holland, 2nd Navy Yard
Built: 1918-1925
In commission: 1920-1946
Planned: 65
Completed: 51
Cancelled: 14
Lost: 10
Retired: 41
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: At most 906 tons surfaced, 1230 Submerged
Length: 219-240 ft (S-2 207 ft)
Beam: 21-22 ft
Draft: 13ft 1in-16ft 1 in[1]
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)-15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) surfaced
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
Complement: 38
Armament: 4 x 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow), 12 torpedoes
(some boats had an additional 21 inch stern tube with 2 additional torpedoes)
1 x 4 inch (102 mm)/50 caliber deck gun

The United States' S-class submarines, often simply called S-boats (sometimes "Sugar" boats, after the then contemporary Navy phonetic alphabet for "S"), were the first class of submarines with a significant number built to United States Navy designs. Others of this class were built to contractor designs.

The United States Navy commissioned 51 S-Class submarines from 1920 to 1925. The first S-boat, USS S-1 (SS-105), was commissioned in 1920 and the last numerically, USS S-51 (SS-162), in 1922. The last of the class actually commissioned was USS S-47 (SS-158) in 1925. The S class is subdivided into four groups of different designs:

S-2 was a prototype built by Lake, and was not repeated.

S-1, S-2, and S-3 were prototypes built to the same specification: S-1 designed by Electric Boat, S-2 by Lake, and S-3 by the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) (later Bureau of Ships).[2] The Lake boat was considered inferior. The Electric Boat and BuC&R designs were put into production as Group I and Group II.

SS-159 to SS-168 (2nd Holland) and SS-173 to SS-176 (2nd Navy Yard) were cancelled and, contrary to later practice, the hull numbers were used for subsequent submarines.[3] Some of the material for these was used by Electric Boat to build the Peruvian Navy's four R-boats.

The first S-boat, S-1, was launched on 26 September 1918, by Bethlehem at Fore River, but not commissioned until 5 June 1920.[4]

Design[edit]

The S-boats were improvements over the O- and R-boats. They were substantially larger. Compared to the R-boats, Group I S-boats were 33 feet (10.1 m) longer, with 3 feet 3 inches (1.0 m) more beam, 2 feet 3 inches (0.7 m) more draft, and 60% greater displacement. This allowed for greater range, larger engines and higher speed, and more torpedo reloads, though the number of forward torpedo tubes was still four. Seven of the Group II and all the Group IV boats had an additional stern tube. Group IV was also longer and had less draft. The Electric Boat designs (Groups I and III) were single-hulled, the others were double-hulled. All S-boats had a 4 inch (102 mm)/50 caliber deck gun, a significant increase over the 3 inch gun of previous US submarines. This was due to observations that the German U-boats frequently used their deck guns, and many U-boats were equipped with 105 mm (4.1 inch) deck guns. Another improvement was the sail. Previous US submarines had small sails to improve submerged speed. Examination of captured U-boats after the Armistice showed that a larger sail with permanent grab rails was preferable when surfaced in the North Atlantic, so S-boats were built or backfitted with an improved sail.[5][6] In 1923, USS S-1 (SS-105) experimented with a seaplane (an idea the Japanese would adopt).

Service[edit]

These boats saw service in World War II in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Smaller and slower than the later fleet submarines produced for war service, and lacking the range for Pacific Ocean patrols (as well as being 20 years old), they were used in reconnaissance and supply roles, as well as for coastal defense. S-boats operated in the Alaska theater during the aftermath of the Battle of the Aleutian Islands, based out of Dutch Harbor. Some also operated out of Australia in the Southwest Pacific Area. They were withdrawn in mid-1943 as more Gato-class fleet submarines became available, and were relegated to ASW training. Most of the surviving boats were scrapped in 1946.

In World War II, S-class boats did not use the newer Mark 14 torpedo, standard in fleet submarines, due to shorter torpedo tubes, relying on the World War I-vintage Mark 10 instead. (Due to production shortages, many fleet boats used Mark 10s, also. Since the Mark 14 suffered from a high failure rate early in the war, this was not necessarily a disadvantage.)

Some S-class boats were transferred to other navies, such as the six transferred to the British Royal Navy. These were mostly used for training in anti-submarine warfare and removed from service by mid-1944.

S-boat fates[edit]

All S-boats were scrapped after World War II except those listed below.

Lost at sea between wars[edit]

4 submarines

  • USS S-4 (SS-109) - sunk 1927; later raised, recommissioned, and served before being finally sunk as a target 1936
  • USS S-5 (SS-110) - lost 1 September 1920
  • USS S-48 (SS-159) - sunk before commissioning 7 December 1921; raised and commissioned in 1922; served during World War II and scrapped in 1946
  • USS S-51 (SS-162) - sunk 1925; raised and later scrapped 1930

Scrapped between World War I and World War II[edit]

6 submarines

Transferred to the Royal Navy during World War II[edit]

6 submarines

Lost during World War II[edit]

7 submarines (1 to enemy action)

General characteristics[edit]

Group I[edit]

(1st Electric Boat (aka Holland) design)

  • Displacement: 854 tons surfaced; 1,062 tons submerged
  • Length: 219 feet 3 inches (66.8 m)
  • Beam: 20 feet 9 inches (6.3 m)
  • Draft: 16 feet (4.9 m)[8]
  • Propulsion: 2 × New London Ship and Engine Company (NELSECO) diesels, 600 hp (448 kW) each; 2 × Electro-Dynamic (S-1, S-30-S-35), Ridgway (S-18, S-20 through S-29), or General Electric (S-36 through S-41) electric motors, 750 horsepower (560 kW) each; 120 cell Exide battery; two shafts.[8]
  • Bunkerage: 168 tons oil fuel
  • Speed: 14.5 knots (27 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
  • Range: 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
  • Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
  • Armament (as built): 4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes);[8] 1 × 4 inch (102 mm)/50 cal deck gun[9]
  • Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men[10]
  • Boats in Group: S-1, S-18 through S-41

Group II[edit]

(1st Navy Yard design)

  • Displacement: 876 tons surfaced; 1,092 tons submerged
  • Length: 231 feet (70.4 m)
  • Beam: 21 feet 9 inches (6.6 m)
  • Draft: 13 feet 4 inches (4.1 m)[11]
  • Propulsion: 2 × MAN (S-3 through S-13) or Busch-Sulzer (S-14 through S-17) diesels, 1,000 hp (746 kW) each; 2 × Westinghouse electric motors, 600 hp (447 kW) each; 120-cell Exide battery; two shafts.[8]
  • Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
  • Bunkerage: 148 tons oil fuel[12]
  • Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
  • Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
  • Armament (as built): 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes) or (S-11 through S-13) 5 (four bow, one stern, 14 torpedoes);[12]
    1 × 4 inch (102 mm)/50 caliber deck gun[13]
  • Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men
  • Boats in Group: S-3 through S-17

Group III[edit]

(2nd Electric Boat (aka Holland) design)

  • Displacement: 906 tons surfaced; 1,126 tons submerged
  • Length: 216 feet (65.8 m), 225 feet 3 inches (68.7 m) overall
  • Beam: 20 feet 9 inches (6.3 m)
  • Draft: 16 feet (4.9 m)[14]
  • Propulsion: 2 × NELSECO diesels, 600 hp (448 kW) each; 2 × Electro-Dynamic electric motors, 750 horsepower (560 kW) each; 120 cell Exide battery; two shafts.[15]
  • Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
  • Bunkerage: 185 tons oil fuel[14]
  • Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
  • Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
  • Armament (as built): 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes); 1 × 4 in (102 mm)/50 cal deck gun[13]
  • Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men
  • Boats in Group: S-42 through S-47

Group IV[edit]

(2nd Navy Yard design)

  • Displacement: 903 tons surfaced; 1230 tons submerged
  • Length: 240 feet (73.2 m), 266 feet (81.1 m) overall
  • Beam: 21 feet 9 inches (6.6 m)
  • Draft: 13 feet 6 inches (4.1 m)[14]
  • Propulsion: 2 × Busch-Sulzer diesels, 900 hp (670 kW) each; 2 × Ridgway electric motors, 750 horsepower (560 kW) each; 120 cell Exide battery; two shafts.[16]
  • Bunkerage: 177 tons oil fuel[14]
  • Speed: 14.5 knots (27 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
  • Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
  • Depth: 200 ft (61 m)
  • Armament (as built): 5 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern, 14 torpedoes); 1 × 4 in (102 mm)/50 cal deck gun[13]
  • Crew: 38 (later 45) officers and men
  • Boats in Group: S-48 through S-51

S-2[edit]

(Lake Torpedo Boat Company design)

  • Displacement: 800 tons surfaced; 977 tons submerged
  • Length: 207 feet (63.1 m) overall
  • Beam: 19 feet 6 inches (5.9 m)
  • Draft: 16 feet 3 inches (5.0 m)[17]
  • Propulsion: 2 × diesels, 900 hp (670 kW) each; 2 × electric motors, 750 horsepower (560 kW) each; two shafts.[17]
  • Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
  • Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
  • Depth: 200 ft (61 m)
  • Armament (as built): 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes);[17] 1 × 4 in (102 mm)/50 cal deck gun[13]
  • Crew: 38 officers and men

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Gardiner, p. 130-131
  2. ^ Lenton, H. T. American Submarines (Doubleday, 1973), p.17.
  3. ^ Friedman, p. 124
  4. ^ Lenton, p.16.
  5. ^ Lenton, p.15 & 17.
  6. ^ Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I (Ian Allan, 1970), pp. 144-150
  7. ^ a b Lenton, p.18.
  8. ^ a b c d Lenton, p.19.
  9. ^ Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two (Naval Institute Press, 1985), ISBN 0-87021-459-4, p.143.
  10. ^ Gardiner, p. 130-131
  11. ^ Lenton, p. 21.
  12. ^ a b Lenton, p.21.
  13. ^ a b c d Campbell, p.143.
  14. ^ a b c d Lenton, p. 23.
  15. ^ Lenton, pp. 19, 23.
  16. ^ Lenton, p.23.
  17. ^ a b c Silverstone, p. 148.

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

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

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