USS K-3 (SS-34)

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For other ships with the same name, see USS Orca.
USS K-3 during her initial fitting out, 7 April 1914
K-3 during her initial fitting out, 7 April 1914
Name: USS K-3
Builder: Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California
Laid down: as Orca
Launched: 14 March 1914
Commissioned: 30 October 1914
Decommissioned: 20 February 1923
Reclassified: SS-34, 17 July 1920
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 3 June 1931
General characteristics
Type: K-class submarine
  • 392 long tons (398 t) surfaced
  • 520 long tons (528 t) submerged
Length: 153 ft 7 in (46.8 m)
Beam: 16 ft 8 in (5.1 m)
Draft: 13 ft 1 in (4.0 m)
Installed power:
  • 950 bhp (710 kW) (diesel)
  • 340 hp (250 kW) (electric)
  • 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced
  • 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) submerged
  • 3,150 nmi (5,830 km; 3,620 mi) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) on the surface
  • 120 nmi (220 km; 140 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth: 200 feet (61.0 m)
Complement: 28 officers and enlisted men
Armament: 4 × bow 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes

USS K-3 (SS-34) was an K-class submarine built for the United States Navy during the 1910s.


The K-class boats had a length of 153 feet 7 inches (46.8 m) overall, a beam of 16 feet 8 inches (5.1 m) and a mean draft of 13 feet 1 inch (4.0 m). They displaced 451 long tons (458 t) on the surface and 527 long tons (535 t) submerged. The K-class submarines had a crew of 2 officers and 26 enlisted men. They had a diving depth of 200 feet (61.0 m).[1]

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 475-brake-horsepower (354 kW) NELSECO diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 170-horsepower (127 kW) electric motor. They could reach 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) on the surface and 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph) underwater. On the surface, the boats had a range of 3,150 nautical miles (5,830 km; 3,620 mi) at 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)[1] and 120 nmi (220 km; 140 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged.[2]

The K-class submarines were armed with four 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes in the bow. They carried four reloads, for a total of eight torpedoes.[2]

Construction and career[edit]

The boat was laid down by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California, as Orca, making her the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the orca, another name for the grampus or killer whale, but on 17 November 1911, during construction, she was renamed K-3. She was launched on 14 March 1914 sponsored by Mrs. Clarence Meigs Oddie, and commissioned on 30 October 1914 with Lieutenant F. T. Chew in command. K-3 joined 3rd Submarine Division, Pacific Torpedo Flotilla 11, December 1914 and operated along the California coast developing underwater warfare tactics and coordinating the use of underseas craft with the fleet. She arrived in Hawaiian waters 14 October 1915 to perform similar exercises in the light of increasing emphasis on submarine warfare.

The United States's entry into World War I placed a greater urgency on the need for experienced submariners, and K-3 was dispatched to Key West, Florida, arriving 8 January 1918. For the remainder of the war, she conducted patrols along the Florida coast while training men in underwater techniques. K-3 continued operations along the East Coast after the war, testing new devices such as listening gear, storage batteries and torpedoes. On 7 November 1922, the submarine arrived Hampton Roads and decommissioned there 20 February 1923. She was scrapped 3 June 1931.


  1. ^ a b Friedman, p. 307
  2. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 128


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