From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
USS F-4 (SS-23).jpg
USS F-4 sometime between 1913 and 1915.
United States
NameUSS F-4
BuilderThe Moran Company, Seattle, Washington
Laid down21 August 1909, as USS Skate
Launched6 January 1912
Commissioned3 May 1913
RenamedUSS F-4, 17 November 1911
Stricken31 August 1915
  • Foundered, 25 March 1915
  • Raised, 29 August 1915; later a harbor marker and buried as trench fill off Pearl Harbor, 1940
General characteristics
Class and typeF-class submarine
Displacement330 long tons (340 t)
Length142 ft 7 in (43.46 m)
Beam15 ft 5 in (4.70 m)
Draft12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)
Speed14 kn (16 mph; 26 km/h)
Complement22 officers and enlisted
Armament4 × 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes

USS F-4 (SS-23) was a United States Navy F-class submarine. Her keel was laid down by the The Moran Company of Seattle, Washington. She was originally named Skate, making her the first ship of the United States Navy named for the skate. She was renamed F-4 on 17 November 1911. She was launched on 6 January 1912 sponsored by Mrs. M.F. Backus; and commissioned on 3 May 1913.

Service history[edit]

Joining the First Submarine Group, Pacific Torpedo Flotilla, F-4 participated in the development operations of that group along the west coast, and from August 1914, in Hawaiian waters out of Naval Submarine Base Pearl Harbor. During submarine maneuvers off Honolulu, Hawaii on 25 March 1915, she sank at a depth of 306 ft (93 m), 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from the harbor. Despite valorous efforts of naval authorities at Honolulu to locate the missing boat and save her crew, all 21 perished. F-4 was the first commissioned submarine of the U.S. Navy to be lost at sea.

U.S. Navy inspection personnel examining the large implosion hole in F-4's port side in drydock at Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, ca. late August or early September 1915. F-4 had been raised from 306 ft (93 m) of water and towed into port. This view was taken from off the port bow, showing F-4's port-side diving plane in the center. She is upside down, rolled to starboard approximately 120° from the vertical.

A diving and engineering precedent was established with the Navy's raising of the submarine on 29 August 1915. Divers descended to attach cables to tow the boat into shallow water, Naval Constructor Julius A. Furer, Rear Admiral C.B.T. Moore, and Lieutenant C. Smith were able to do this with the use of specially devised and constructed pontoons. Navy diver George D Stillson found the superstructure caved in and the hull filled with water.[1] One of the divers involved in the salvage operation was John Henry Turpin, who was, probably, the first African-American to qualify as a U.S. Navy Master Diver. Only four of the dead could be identified; the 17 others were buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

The investigating board subsequently conjectured that corrosion of the lead lining of the battery tank had permitted seepage of sea water into the battery compartment and thereby caused the commanding officer to lose control on a submerged run. Others believe that the bypassing of an unreliable magnetic reducer closed a Kingston valve in the forward ballast tank resulting in a delay.[3] Based on other reported issues, there may also have been problems with the air lines supplying the ballast tank.[3]

F-4 was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 August 1915 and was taken from the dry dock in Honolulu Harbor in early September 1915 so the other three F-Class submarines could be dry docked as they had been rammed by the navy supply ship USS Supply (1872). The F-4 was moved, still hanging from the pontoons to Pearl Harbor and anchored in Magazine Loch until on or about 25 November 1915, when she was disconnected from the pontoons and settled into the mud at the bottom of the loch. She remained there until the expansion of the harbor in 1940, when the remains of F-4 were re-buried in a trench dug in the loch bottom off the Submarine Base Mooring S14, Pearl Harbor.

Francis Hughson, F4 Crew Member, (Died 25 March 1915)
Plans for the F-class submarines of the US Navy


  1. ^ staff (16 April 1915). "WATER IN HULL OF F-4.; Diver Also Reports That Superstructure of Submarine Has Caved In" (PDF). NY Times. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  2. ^ Honolulu Star-Bulletin (2000). "The United States Submarine F-4 March 25, 1915". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  3. ^ a b Searle Jr, Willard F; Curtis Jr, Thomas G (2006). "The loss and salvage of F-4, a historic milestone". Undersea Warfare. Navy. 7 (6). Retrieved 2016-04-07.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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

External links[edit]