United States E-class submarine

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USS E-1 (SS-24) lead ship of the class
Class overview
Name: E-class submarine
Builders: Electric Boat (design)
Fore River Shipyard
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: D-class submarine
Succeeded by: F-class submarine
Built: 1911-1912
In commission: 1912-1921
Completed: 2
Retired: 2
Preserved: 0
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: 287 long tons (292 t) surfaced
342 long tons (347 t) submerged
Length: 135 ft 3 in (41.22 m)
Beam: 14 ft 7 in (4.45 m)
Draft: 11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
Propulsion: 2 x NELSECO diesel engines, 700 hp (522 kW)
2 x Electro Dynamic electric motors, 600 hp (447 kW)
2 x 60-cell batteries
2 shafts[1]
Speed: 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h; 15.5 mph) surfaced
11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph) submerged
Range: 2,100 nmi (3,900 km) at 11 kn (20 km/h; 13 mph) surfaced (8,486 US gal (32,120 l; 7,066 imp gal) fuel)
100 nmi (190 km) at 5 kn (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth: 200 ft (61 m)
Complement: 20
Armament: 4 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes (bow)
4 torpedoes

The E-class submarines were a class of two United States Navy submarines, built by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts under a subcontract from the Electric Boat Company. They were used as coastal and harbor defense submarines prior to World War I. When hostilities broke out, the E class were mostly used as training boats; however, E-1 operated on war patrols based in the Azores. During this time, the need for an improved permanent bridge structure was discovered; the temporary piping-and-canvas bridges were inadequate in the North Atlantic.


Unusually for the early submarine era, the E-class were the same size as the preceding D-class at 340 tons submerged. The E-class were the first US diesel-powered submarines (the French "Z" (Q 36) was the first worldwide in 1905).[2] Although the early diesels were unreliable and the E-class were re-engined in 1915, diesels rapidly became the standard engine for submarines worldwide. The fuel is much less flammable than the gasoline used in previous submarines. Today, nuclear-powered submarines continue to have a backup diesel engine. Another innovation that became standard was bow planes for more precise underwater control.[1]

These vessels included some features intended to increase underwater speed that were standard on US submarines of this era, including a small sail and a rotating cap over the torpedo tube muzzles. For extended surface runs, the small sail was augmented with a temporary piping-and-canvas structure (see photo). Apparently the "crash dive" concept had not yet been thought of, as this would take considerable time to deploy and dismantle. This remained standard through the N-class, commissioned 1917-1918. Experience in World War I showed that this was inadequate in the North Atlantic weather, and earlier submarines serving overseas in that war (E-class through L-class) had their bridge structures augmented with a "chariot" shield on the front of the bridge. Starting with the N-class, built with lessons learned from overseas experience, US submarines had bridges more suited to surfaced operations in rough weather. The streamlined, rotating torpedo tube muzzle cap eliminated the drag that muzzle holes would otherwise cause. In the stowed position, the submarine appears to have no torpedo tubes, as the holes in the cap are covered by the bow stem. This feature remained standard through the K-class, after which it was replaced with shutters that were standard through the 1950s.


The E-class and similar early submarines were known as "pig boats", or "boats", due to foul living quarters and unusual hull shape.[3] The E class was used to test and evaluate tactics and new equipment, but was quickly overtaken by newer long-range, ocean-going submarines. E-1 was forward deployed to the Azores in World War I, the oldest and smallest US submarine to perform war patrols in that war. The class was decommissioned and scrapped in 1922 to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty.


  • USS E-1 (SS-24) was launched in 27 May 1911 as Skipjack and was commissioned on 14 February 1912 (LT Chester W. Nimitz in command). Renamed E-1 on 17 November 1911 and reclassified as SS-24 on 17 July 1920, the submarine was decommissioned on 20 October 1921 and sold afterwards.[4]
  • USS E-2 (SS-25) was launched in 15 June 1911 as Sturgeon and was commissioned on 14 February 1912. Renamed E-2 on 17 November 1911 and reclassified as SS-24 on 17 July 1920, the submarine was decommissioned on 20 October 1921 and sold afterwards.[5]


  1. ^ a b Gardiner, p. 127
  2. ^ Gardiner, p. 207
  3. ^ Pike, John (2005-04-27). "SS-24 E-1 Skipjack". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  4. ^ "E-1". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "E-2". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 

See also[edit]

Media related to E class submarines of the United States at Wikimedia Commons