USS S-18 (SS-123)

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USS S-18 (SS-123).jpg
USS S-18 taking a towline off Taboga Island in the Bay of Panama in the 1920s.
Builder: Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts[1]
Laid down: 15 August 1918[1]
Launched: 29 April 1920[1]
Commissioned: 3 April 1924[1]
Decommissioned: 29 October 1945[1]
Struck: 13 November 1945[1]
Fate: Sold for scrap, 9 November 1946[1]
General characteristics
Type: S-class direct-drive diesel and electric submarine, S-1 type[2]
Displacement: 930 tons (945 t) surfaced, standard,[3] 1,094 tons (1,112 t) submerged[3]
Length: 219 ft 3 in (66.83 m)[3]
Beam: 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m)[3]
Draft: 17 ft 3 in (5.26 m)[3]
  • 13 knots (24 km/h) surfaced, 1939[3]
  • 9 knots (17 km/h) submerged[3]
Range: 3,420 nautical miles (6,330 km) @ 6.5 knots (12 km/h),[3] 8,950 nautical miles (16,580 km) @ 9.5 knots (18 km/h) with fuel in main ballast tanks[3]
Endurance: 20 hours @ 5 knots (9 km/h)[3]
Test depth: 200 ft (60 m)[3]
Complement: 4 officers, 39 enlisted (1939)[3]
  • 4 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes forward
  •  12 torpedoes[3]
  • 1 × 4-inch (102 mm) / 50 caliber deck gun[2][3]

USS S-18 (SS-123) was a first-group (S-1 or "Holland") S-class submarine of the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down on 15 August 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 29 April 1920 sponsored by Miss Virginia Bell Johnson, and commissioned on 3 April 1924 with Lieutenant Elliot M. Senn in command.

Service history[edit]

Inter-War Period[edit]

From 1924-1929, S-18 operated out of New London, Connecticut, primarily off the New England coast but with annual deployments to the Caribbean Sea for winter maneuvers and fleet problems. Transferred to the Pacific fleet in 1930, she departed New London on 24 May 1930, operated off the California coast into the fall, and arrived at Pearl Harbor, on 7 December 1930.

For the next 11 years, S-18 remained based at Pearl Harbor. In September 1941, she returned to the West Coast. Three months later, after the United States had entered World War II, submarine S-18 was ordered to the Aleutian Islands.

World War II[edit]

A unit of Submarine Division 41 (SubDiv 41), S-18 moved north in mid-January 1942. Into March 1942, she conducted defensive patrols out of the new and still incomplete submarine base at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island in Unalaska, Alaska. In mid-March 1942, she got underway for San Diego, California, underwent repairs there until mid-May 1942, and then returned to the Aleutians.

En route on 29 May 1942, the S-boat received orders to patrol the southern approaches to Umnak Pass in anticipation of a Japanese attack. On 2 June 1942, she took up her station. The next day, the Imperial Japanese Navy sent carrier planes against Dutch Harbor (commencing the Battle of Dutch Harbor 3–4 June 1942) and landed troops on Kiska and Attu Islands. The war in the Aleutians had begun.

Orders for submerged daylight operations in combat areas compelled the submarines of the north Pacific force, designed during World War I, to increase their submerged time to 19 hours a day. Surfaced recharging time was cut to the brief five hours of the northern summer night.

Hampered by fog, rain, and poor radio reception - and lacking radar, fathometer, and deciphering equipment - S-18 remained on patrol through 10 June 1942. The next day, she returned to Dutch Harbor. On 13 June 1942, she was underway again to patrol west and north of Attu, then north of Kiska. The weather, as on earlier patrols, was consistently bad. Habitability in the S-boats were poor. Material defects and design limitations in speed and maneuverability continued to plague her.

On 29 June 1942, she sighted an enemy submarine but was unable to close. The same day, she returned to Dutch Harbor, and as at the conclusion of previous patrols, her commanding officer requested up-to-date sound and radar equipment.

From 15 July-2 August 1942, the S-boat conducted another patrol in the Kiska area, and on completion of that patrol, she was ordered back to San Diego.

In October 1942, S-18 returned to the Aleutians, and on 22 October 1942, she cleared Dutch Harbor for her next patrol, again in the Kiska area. On 3 November 1942, however, she was recalled and ordered to prepare for a longer, more distant patrol. On 12 November 1942 she put to sea, but on 15 November 1942, a crack in the starboard main engine housing forced her back to Dutch Harbor.

She arrived on 20 November 1942, and her repairs were completed by the end of the month. On 30 November 1942, S-18 resumed her patrol, moved west, and operated off Kiska, Kiskinato, Agattu, and Attu. On 22 December 1942, after 16 days in her patrol area, she lost her starboard stern plane, and depth control became erratic. On 28 December 1942, she returned to Dutch Harbor.

Repairs and refit took S-18 into 1943, and on 7 January 1943, she got underway again. During that 28-day patrol, she reconnoitered Attu and the Semichi Islands. On 4 February 1943, she was ordered back to San Diego for overhaul, and was assigned to training duty.

For the remainder of World War II, S-18 remained in the San Diego area, providing training services for the West Coast Sound School. In late-September 1945, she moved north to San Francisco, California, where she was decommissioned on 29 October 1945. On 13 November 1945, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register, and a year later her 26-year-old hulk was sold for scrapping to the Salco Iron and Metal Company in San Francisco.


S-18 earned one battle star during World War II.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  2. ^ a b c Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  4. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 p. 258