USS R-12 (SS-89)

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USS R-12 (SS-89).png
USS R-12 (SS-89)
United States
NameUSS R-12 (SS-89)
Ordered29 August 1916
BuilderFore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down28 March 1918
Launched15 August 1919
Commissioned23 September 1919
Decommissioned7 December 1932
Recommissioned16 October 1940
Decommissioned12 June 1943
Stricken6 July 1943
FateFoundered 12 June 1943.
General characteristics
Class and typeR-class submarine
  • 569 long tons (578 t) surfaced
  • 680 long tons (690 t) submerged
Length186 ft 2 in (56.74 m)
Beam18 ft (5.5 m)
Draft14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
  • 13.5 kn (15.5 mph; 25.0 km/h) surfaced
  • 10.5 kn (12.1 mph; 19.4 km/h) submerged
Complement33 officers and men

USS R-12 (SS-89) was an R-class coastal and harbor defense submarine of the United States Navy.


R-12′s keel was laid down by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, on 28 March 1918. She was launched on 15 August 1919, sponsored by Miss Helen Mack, and commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 23 September 1919.


R-12 remained at Boston, Massachusetts until she headed down the coast on 11 March to New London, Connecticut, whence she operated until the end of May. She then continued south to Panama; transited the Panama Canal at the end of June; arrived at San Pedro, Los Angeles, in July; and with the hull classification symbol "SS-89", departed the California coast for Pearl Harbor at the end of August. Arriving on 6 September 1920, she remained in Hawaiian waters, with occasional exercises on the West Coast and off Johnston Island until 1930. On 10 May 1921 R-14 ran out of usable fuel and lost radio communications while searching for the ocean going tug, USS Conestoga, which was lost as sea en route from Mare Island to Pearl Harbor. The crew stitched together blankets, hammocks and battery deck covers, and then spent 5 days under sail to travel 120 miles back to Hawaii. The CO received a letter of commendation for the crew's innovative actions from his Submarine Division Commander, CDR Chester Nimitz. On 12 December 1930, R-12 got underway for the East Coast and returned to New London, Connecticut, on 9 February 1931. She conducted exercises with Destroyer Squadrons of the Scouting Force into the spring, then following overhaul trained personnel assigned to the Submarine School. On 27 September 1932, she departed New London for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where, after decommissioning on 7 December, she joined other R-boats berthed there in the Reserve Fleet.

Some seven and a half years later, on 1 July 1940, R-12 recommissioned in ordinary and shifted to New London to complete activation. Recommissioned in full on 16 October, she sailed for Panama on 10 December, arrived on 23 December, and into October 1941, patrolled the approaches to the Panama Canal. On 31 October, she returned to New London and for the next three months operated off the New England coast. In February 1942, she commenced patrols to the south and for the next year operated primarily from Guantanamo Bay and Key West, Florida. In March and April 1943, she was back at New London, then in May she returned to Key West, Florida, where she trained submariners for the remainder of her career.[1]

Accident and loss[edit]

Shortly after noon on 12 June 1943, R-12, while underway to conduct a torpedo practice approach, sounded her last diving alarm. As she completed preparations to dive, the forward battery compartment began to flood.[2] The collision alarm was sounded and a report was made that the forward battery compartment was flooding. Orders were given to blow main ballast, but the sea was faster. In about 15 seconds, R-12 was lost. The commanding officer, one other officer, and three enlisted men were swept from the bridge as the boat sank and were rescued. The subsequent 14-day search involved as many as 14 ships.[3] Forty-two people died.[1] R-12 was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 July.


Sometime before 25 May 2011, an exploration team led by Tim Taylor aboard the expedition vessel RV Tiburon located and documented the wreck of R-12. The reason for her loss remains unknown. In making the discovery, the team deployed a state-of-the-art autonomous underwater robot which collected first ever imagery of the remains of R-12. They are collaborating and sharing their findings with the US Navy. RV Tiburon intends to launch a future expedition to further investigate the possible causes of the sinking, and collect detailed archeological baseline data. Updated information from the Department of the Navy shows the following: On 12 June 1943, the R-12 headed out from Key West to practice launching torpedoes. But as the boat prepared to dive, the forward battery compartment began to flood, and the sub sank in 15 seconds, according to a Navy Court of Inquiry.


  • There is a granite marker in honor of R-12 at the National Submarine Memorial in Groton, Connecticut.
  • There is a small monument in honor of R-12 and her crew at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island.
  • There is a granite marker in honor of "R-12" and her crew at the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Museum in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.



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

  1. ^ a b Barnette, Michael C. (2008). Florida's Shipwrecks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5413-6.
  2. ^ "Submarine Casualties Booklet". U.S. Naval Submarine School. 1966. Archived from the original on 11 September 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Sotos, George P. (2020). Living with the Torpedo: Anti-Submarine Warfare, Command, and Shipboard Life in the US Navy During World War II. Mt. Vernon, VA: Mount Vernon Book Systems. pp. 144–150. ISBN 978-0-9818193-9-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 24°24′30″N 81°38′30″W / 24.40833°N 81.64167°W / 24.40833; -81.64167