USS B-3 (SS-12)

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USS Tarantula - 19-N-60-9-5.jpg
USS B-3, underway near the New York Navy Yard, 1909.
Name: USS Tarantula
Builder: Fore River Shipbuilding, Quincy, Massachusetts
Cost: $185,077.84 (hull and machinery)[1]
Launched: 30 March 1907
Commissioned: 3 December 1907
Decommissioned: 25 July 1921
Renamed: B-3, 17 November 1911
Fate: Sunk as a target, 1922
General characteristics
Class and type: B-class submarine
  • 145 long tons (147 t) surfaced
  • 170 long tons (170 t) submerged
Length: 82 ft 5 in (25.12 m)
Beam: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Draft: 10 ft 7 in (3.23 m)
Installed power:
  • 250 bhp (190 kW) (gasoline)
  • 115 hp (86 kW) (electric)
  • 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged
  • 540 nmi (1,000 km; 620 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) on the surface
  • 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 150 feet (45.7 m)
Complement: 10 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 18 in (460 mm) bow torpedo tubes (4 torpedoes)

USS B-3 (SS-12) was one of three B-class submarines built for the United States Navy in the first decade of the 20th century.


The B-class submarines were enlarged versions of the preceding Plunger class. They had a length of 82 feet 5 inches (25.1 m) overall, a beam of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m) and a mean draft of 10 feet 7 inches (3.2 m). They displaced 145 long tons (147 t) on the surface and 170 long tons (170 t) submerged. The B-class boats had a crew of one officer and nine enlisted men. They had a diving depth of 150 feet (45.7 m).[2]

For surface running, they were powered by one 240-brake-horsepower (179 kW) gasoline engine that drove the single propeller shaft. When submerged the propeller was driven by a 115-horsepower (86 kW) electric motor.[2] The boats could reach 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) on the surface and 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) underwater. On the surface, they had a range of 540 nautical miles (1,000 km; 620 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) and 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged.[3]

The B-class boats were armed with two 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes in the bow. They carried two reloads, for a total of four torpedoes.[3]

Construction and career[edit]

B-3 was laid down by Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts, under a subcontract from Electric Boat Company of then New Suffolk L. I., as Tarantula, making her the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tarantula. She was launched on 30 March 1907 sponsored by Mrs. George S. Radford, wife of Naval Constructor Radford, and commissioned on 3 December 1907 with Lieutenant J. F. Daniels in command.

Service history[edit]

She reported to the Atlantic Fleet, and Tarantula operated along the Atlantic coast with the First and Second Submarine Flotillas on training and experimental exercises until going into reserve at Charleston Navy Yard on 6 November 1909. She was recommissioned on 15 April 1910 and served with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet until assigned to the Reserve Torpedo Group, Charleston Navy Yard on 9 May 1911 and placed out of commission on 4 December 1912. On 17 November, Tarantula was renamed B-3.

On 6 December 1912, B-3 was towed to Norfolk, Virginia, and loaded onto the collier Ajax for transfer to the Asiatic Station. Arriving at Cavite, Philippine Islands on 30 April 1913, B-3 was launched from Ajax on 12 May. She was recommissioned on 2 September and remained in the Philippines where she served with Submarine Division 4, Torpedo Flotilla, Asiatic Fleet.

Excerpts from the autobiography of Captain C.Q. Wright indicate he was the "Officer in Charge" of the B3 at Cavite. His crew launched the two subs off the deck of the Ajax. They then retrofitted the gasoline powered engines and motors in the Cavite Navy Yard shop readying the subs for a 48-hour shake down cruise. The first tour of duty began with sealed orders at 1900 hours, guarding Manilla Bay, in the event hostilities broke out with Japan. Orders were to sink any Japanese war vessel that came into sight, although none did. 1914: B-3 awarded the “Battle Efficiency Pennant” for the best operating submarine in the US fleet, C.O. Ensign C.Q. Wright. Decommissioned at Cavite on 25 July 1921, B-3 was subsequently used as a target.


  1. ^ "Table 21 - Ships on Navy List June 30, 1919". Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office: 762. 1921. 
  2. ^ a b Friedman, p. 306
  3. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 127


  • Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

External links[edit]