O class submarines (1917)

O type submarines at Boston

US Navy ww1 USA (1916-46) O-1 to O-16, small oceanic submersibles
WW1 US submarines:
USS Holland | A class | B class | C class | D class | E class | F class | G class | H class | K class | L class | M class | N class | O class | R class | S class | T class

The “O” class USN submersibles were of group of 16 boats completed late in WWI. They missed the great war, being commissioned shortly before of after the armistice. The interwar saw them still active, modernized for some and some were still around in WW2 as training submarines. They were an influential, yet a bit forgotten design which set the general design of the mass-produced R and S class that followed in 1917-1921. This was also the first large scale wartime US submarine production, with 12 boats. Of the eight boats that took part in WW2, one was lost in June 1941 while the others were stricken in 1946.

USS O1 christening ceremony on 9 July 1918. She was completed on 5 November, a few days before the armistice, heard during early training.

To a wartime standard

O3 underway
The first wartime US design was also among the ones that served the longest for this generation. They were the first and last to see action both in WWI (albeit not all and in the last months or days) and WW2, although not deployed frontline. The following 27 R class were a near-repeat and also took part in WW2, and more so the 50 S-class from various yards. They were more active, and paid a heavy price, 10 being lost in action. Four were also transferred to the RN, one to Poland, but this will be the object of next post.

Prewar US submarine development: From USS Holland to the N class

Interest of submarines was far quicker and more enthusiastic in the US Navy than any other at the time. During the civil war already, submerged or semi-submerged vessels were built and used in combat actions, and there never was a shortage of inventors afterwards. Among these were John Holland and Simon Lake, which approached the Navy in the late 1880s already. However it’s only at the eve of the Spanish-American war that the concept took off as the Spanish fleet was larger on paper. In case of an attack from the Atlantic squadron on the US east coast, having torpedo boats and submarines seemed a valuable asset. After both Lake and Holland’s model were tested (and USS Holland built, the first USN service submarines), evolution went on along the alphabet, from A to N, with gradual improvements with contract awarded either for Electric Boats (Holland’s company) or Lake TB Company (S.Lake’s).

USS O1 in 1918 underway after commission, in trials.

These prewar classes were limited to three boats on average in order to test gradual improvements. The best prewar design was certainly the H class (three launched 1913) considered so successful that when the US entered the war, a “repeat” six boats were ordered to Puget Sound. However, the H, K and L classes failed their trials and developed engine probems. The latter were the first US Submarines with a deck gun, and it was partially retractable. They were launched in 1915-16 but their failed trials meant overhauls and late entry into service. That was a point to correct with the next O class, without a doubt.

Design of the class

The O-class drawn from lessons learned with the previous L class. They were 80 tons heavier in displacement, and with increased capacity powerplant, ensuring a higher surface speeds and greater range, proper to their ocean patrol duties as planned. As the US entered the war in April 1917, all boats in construction since December 1916 were sped up compared to previous classes, and if they were launched on 1917-18, all were commissioned before the end of 1918. O-1 until O-10 became “group 1” as designed by Electric Boat. From O-11 to O-16 (“group 2”) they were designed by the Lake Torpedo Boat Company by order of the government to spread it between former competitors. Although base specifications and plans were the same, bith companies had some leeway in details, and thus many authors saw them as two separate classes.

Construction and Service

The O class were built by five shipyards, Portsmouth Navy Yard (Kittery, Maine), Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton (Washington) for the first two. And from O-3 to O-10, all were made at Fore River Shipyard in Quincy (Massachusetts). The first of Group 2, O-11, 12, 13, were built by the designer, Lake in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The very last (O-14, 15, 16) by California Shipbuilding in Long Beach (California).
The group 2 boats were commissioned in October-November 1918 and the Group 1 saw most of mid-1918 service. But they were never sent to Europe and instead ware tasked of patrolling the eastern seaboard (see later). Eight Electric Boats (group 1) were retained as consiered generally better. They saw the start and into the end of WW2 as well, thus the only boats in the USN to have seen both world wards ever.

Hull and general design

Being an extrapolation of the L class, they kept the same general outlook. The hull was shaped like a splindle torpedo, with a narrow hull built above, and deck. As cuetomary for the time, there was a platform built above the emerging part of the conning tower, with the helmsman post built over it and protected by canvas. The periscopes mountings were installed aft of it. About the same general shape as the “L” class they were stretched and looked more balanced.

They were also much heavier, with the displacement of 500-521 tonnes surfaced and 566 to 622 tonnes submerged depending on the group (the L classes were 450/548 tonnes). They were a few feets longer and inches larger, with a radio cable strapped between the prow’s tripod and aft’s. Like the L class the had a deck gun, but it was not retractable,but fixed permanently on a platform built above the deck, sponsoned to allow the crew to operate on a full traverse. This was a first, shared by the T class (fleet submarines) and was repeated on the R and S class. As the previous boats this was a 3-in/28 (76mm). Considered weak, it was replaced by a 50 caliber on the R class, and a 4-in/50 on the next S class. It’s really after testing German U-boats obtained as war reparation that the next generation went for the 5-in deck gun.


Both groups diverged in their powerplant for comparative tests, but on two shafts and with two 60-cell batteries
Group 1: Four 440 hp (328 kW) NELSECO diesel engines, two 370 hp (276 kW) New York Navy Yard (O1-O5) or Electro Dynamic Co. electric motors.
Group 2: Two 500 hp (373 kW) Busch-Sulzer diesel engines, two 400 hp (298 kW) Diehl Manufacture Co. electric motors.
Performances diverged as a consequence in between groups:
Group 1 boats were capable of 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced and 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) submerged
Group 2 boats 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced, 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) submerged
As for Range however they all were capable of the same apparent 5,500 nmi (10,200 km) at 11.5 kn (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph) surfaced and 250 nmi (460 km) at 5 kn (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Test depth was 200 ft (61 m). All this made them relatively capable boats in the standards of the time.


Deck Gun: 3-in/28

Similar, non-rectractable gun on USS SC-291, 1918-19
The 3 inch (76 mm)/23 caliber gun retractable deck gun was an ingenious mounting, rarely seen at the time, or since. But the gun itself was pretty standard.
Likely the Mark 9, it weighted 749 pounds (340 kg) with breech, firing a 16.5 lb (7.5 kg) 76.2×234 mm R shell at 8–9 rounds per minute, 1,650 feet per second (500 m/s) and below 5,000 yards due to the limited elevation.

Note: This is the Mark 11 AA variant.

Torpedo Tubes

The O-class came out with four standard 18-inches (450 mm) torpedo tubes at the bow, with one in reserve for each, so 8 torpedoes total.
At that stage they were probably the Whitehead torpedo Mk.5 (1910–1922), esact caliber 17.7 in (45 cm) for a lenght of 204 in (520 cm) and weight of 1,452 lb (659 kg), carrying a 200 lb (91 kg)
Guncotton explosive charge with contact detonator. It was powered by a an Air-flask Brotherhood pattern engine capable of three settings:
-27 kn (50 km/h) at 4,000 yd (3,700 m)
-36 kn (67 km/h) at 2,000 yd (1,800 m)
-40 kn (74 km/h) at 1,000 yd (910 m)

⚙ O class specifications (Batch 2)

Displacement 491t surfaced/565t submerged
Dimensions 175 ft x 16 ft 7 in (53 x 5.05 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts 500 hp Busch-Sulzer diesel, 2× 400 hp Diehl E. motors, 120-cell batteries
Speed 14 knots surfaced/11 knots submerged
Range surfaced/sub. 5,500 nmi (10,200 km) at 11.5 kn/250 nmi (460 km) at 5 kn
Armament 4× 18 in TTs (8 torpedoes), 3 in/23 retractable deck gun
Test Depth 200 ft (61 m)
Crew 29

Combat Action and Service

The O class originally were intended in an anti-submarine role off the East Coast.
The first group saw O-5 rammed by a cargo ship near the Panama Canal, 28 October 1923 (three lost). O-4 and O-6 came under fire from a British merchantman on 24 July 1918 by error. O4 took six hits in her conning tower and pressure hull before she was identified. O-3 to O-10 were part of a 20-sub fleet leaving Newport on 2 November 1918 for the Azores, and recalled after the Armistice.
All nine surviving boats were decommissioned in 1931 but recommissioned except O-1 by 1941, to serve as training boats at the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut. They were decommissioned postwar except O-9 tested in a deep submergence trial by June 1941, with 33 of the crew with her. This was highly criticized by the press, elthough these trials were necessary to set the ideal specs for the Gato class.

The second group boats (O-11 to O-16) from Lake suffered from electrical problems delaying their service. O-11 was went after trials at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a five-month overhaul. In October 1918, O-13 accidentally collided with the patrol boat Mary Alice which sank, and rescued the crew. O-15 underwent a refit but was sent in the reserve after a short service based at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone and had another overhaul. O-16 also had a refit soon after commission. It seems that neither subs sunk any U-Boat drung their service, mostly condemned to stay relatively close to the east coast where U-boats more rarely ventured, outside the long range “U-Kreuzer” of 1918.

A fire devastated O-16 conning tower in December 1919, precipitating her retirement. All six were decommissioned in July 1924, scrapped in July 1930 as per the London Naval Treaty.
O-12 however was disarmed, renamed “Nautilus” used for the Arctic expedition of Sir Hubert Wilkins. Back to the USN, she stayed in location, being was scuttled in a Norwegian fjord by November 1931.

There were nine O type submarines in Submarine Division 8 (SubDiv 8) at Boston postwar. The interwar saw both groups modified for improved safety in case of a sinking: Two marker buoys were installed for manual release fore and aft in case one was stranded on the bottom, revealing its position. There was also motor room hatch in the the aftermost compartment which had made for a tapered after casing as a step. It could accomodate one man at a time, which could try to escape.

USS O15 colorized by the author

WW2 saw all seven remaining O boats at New London Submarine Base training thousands of new submariners which were pressed into the newly mass-built Gato-class subs until 1945. The very last of this class, USS O-4, was decommissioned by September 1945, after V-Day. O-4 had had a 27 years service which at the time was the longest in USN submarine history. This record was broken several times in the cold war. In 1943, one of these was borrowed from the navy for shots of the movie “Crash Dive” filmed in safety at the New London submarine base.

The case of “Nautilus”

Lake’s O12 had an interesting fate, among other submarines of the class. After barely a few years of service in the 1st SubDiv, O12 which was laid down on 6 March 1916 at Lake Torpedo Boat Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, launched on 29 September 1917, commissioned on 18 October 1918, she was in mothballs from 17 June 1924. On 29 July 1930 she was stricken and could have been sold for scrap at this point, when she was requested by the newly created United States Shipping Board that was looking for a research submarine. She was to be converted at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for this new purpose, and leased at one yearly dollar rate, to Lake and Danenhower, Inc. of Bridgeport. The men behind this expedition were Hubert Wilkins and Lincoln Ellsworth. They planned an Arctic Expedition of geophysical investigation, and when conversion was complete on 24 March 1931, she was re-christened “Nautilus”, first of the name in the USA. There will be more in US service. Prohibition obliges, she was christened with a bucket of ice cubes, which seems to its promoter a fitting alternative to Champaign. Jules Verne’s (or 20 thousand leagues under the seas…) grandson was also present and actress Suzanne Bennett among others.
Simon Lake modified the submarine with several inventoion of his own based on the explorer’s ideas and requests. The idea was to use it for prolongated under-ice operations, which poses many challenges.

He fitted Nautilus with a mechanical probe (trolley pole like) to scrape the ice bottom, indicating clearance above the submarine. There were also drills “sold” as being capable to pierce 13 feet (4 m) into the ice, enabling to reach fresh air for both the engine and crew. Its torpedo chamber was now a moon pool and water-tight door welded shut, pressure equalized. Now a trap door was install to lower scientific instruments. All these systems were tested in secret.

Nautilus had now a crew of 20 men which started to train aboard, not even commissioned, under command of Captain Sloan Danenhower (John Wilson’s son captain of USS Jeannette, Arctic expedition). Nautilus departed on 4 June 1931 from New York City to Plymouth in UK, and she was planned for a first trip to Spitsbergen and to the North Pole, meeting there after surfacing, the German airship Graf Zeppelin. However this was stom season and she encounterd such a violent one her engines failed, so she had to be rescued and towed into Cork Harbour, Southern Ireland on 22 June. She had repairs and batteries re-charged then went to a British yard for further repairs by USS Wyoming.
On 5 Augus she started the Arctic expedition via the English Channel, proceeded along the Norwegian coast, was slowed down by an another storm, took damage, with her bridge destroyed and external hull damaged as well, giving her a permanent list. Sge had repairs at Tromsø on 11 August, then Spitsbergen, but was notified a single day for repairs. Next she resumed her trip, only to be blocked by thick pack ice. Lacking insulation and heaters the crew suffered as well, and at some point the fresh water system froze. She also saw number of leaks appearing, which was quite a worrysome sign.

After ten days of harrowing conditions she managed to reach 82°N, still, a record at the time, as it was the farthest north any vessel ever reached and she was prepared to dive, but at that point, she justed refused to respond with stern planes gone previously probably ripped off by the ice. Without being able to control depth when submerged the whole expedition was over.
On 31 August however, during a radio point, media mogul William Randolph Hearst, which promised to pay for the expedition, pressured Wilkins to proceed anyway. Captain Danenhower then decided to take a risky manieuver, trimming down his sub by the bow, deliberately ramming ice floe to foce her under, and it worked. She became the first submarine ever under the polar ice cap. However she was damaged on her upper works and lost radio contact. Presumed lost, a rescue was attempted, whereas she surfaced after a short distance through a polynya and underwent days of repair while scientifical experiments proceeded. They would be published by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a world’s first. On 20 September, Nautilus returned to Spitsbergen, but Hearst, undeteted, called the expedition a failure and refused to pay.

O-12 was then returned to the USN, which on 30 November 1931 had no purpose for her, so communication was done that no tug will came for her. Instead she was ordered to be scuttle close to where she was in Norway. A local tug had her towed three miles down the Byfjorden (near Bergen) then all cocks and valves were opened so she can sink under 1,138 feet (347 m). In 1981 she was rediscovered by Norwegian divers, and inspected in 2010 by JAGO. Her legacy was immense however, and in 1959, before USS Nautilus, USS Skate was the first submarine to surface at the North Pole, second after SSN-571 to reach it, and as a tribute to Sir George Hubert Wilkins, scattered his ashes over the ice.

Read More/Src

O-3 underway in 1918


Hutchinson, Robert (2001). Jane’s submarines : war beneath the waves from 1776 to the present day. HarperCollins.
Gardiner, Robert, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921 Conway Maritime Press 1985.
Friedman, Norman “US Submarines through 1945: An Illustrated Design History” NIP


on pigboats.com/
navweaps.com PreWWII us torpedoes
navweaps.com/ 3in/23_mk13.php
US Torpedo History, history.navy.mil
on en.wikipedia.org/

On Nautilus
on amphilsoc.org/
on worldhistoryblog.com/
On amphilsoc.org/ again
on ctinsider.com
navsource.org/ O8 and Nautilus

AS-8 USS Savannah sub tender on the east coast with several O-class subs alongside circa 1918

US Navy ww2 O1

O-1 in drydock, Portmouth NyD September 1918 for a refit.
O-1 was laid down on 26 March 1917 at the Portsmouth NyD, Kittery, Maine, launched on 9 July 1918, commissioned on 5 November 1918 (Lieutenant Commander Norman L. Kirk) so shortly before the Armistice with Germany. She served in the Atlantic coastal Force, from Cape Cod to Key West in Florida. Reclassified a 2nd class submarine on 25 July 1924 she was reinstated as 1st, on 6 June 1928, but two years later by 28 December 1930 converted to an experimental vessel operating in New London, Connecticut. This went on until decommissioned on 11 June 1931, stricken on 18 May 1938, sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 O2

O-2 in drydock 1928, close to the gigantic V-4 USS Aregonaut.
O-2 was built at Puget Sound Navy Yard, launched on 24 May 1918, commissioned on 19 October 1918 so before thee end of the war, in which she patrolled off the New England coast until the armistic. Afterwards she was reclassed as 2nd, then 1st class again like O1. Eventually in 1928 she joind submarine base in New London until 1931 (making a posting in Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone in 1924). In 1931 she was bacl to Philadelphia and decommissioned on 25 Jun, but recommissioned on 3 February 1941. Based in New London she trained submarine crews from June until the end of the war in Europe, being decommissioned on 26 July 1945, stricken 11 August 1945, sold 16 November 1945.

US Navy ww2 O3

USS O-3 underway
O-3 was made at Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, launched on 27 September 1917, commissioned on 13 June 1918, sent to the Atlantic coastal patrol, looking for U-boats from Cape Cod to Key West and by November joined a 20-submarine forced gathered in Newport, Rhode Island and departing on 3 November for European watersand recalled as the Armistice was announced. Like the others she served at New London to train Submarine School students and in 1924 was based at NS Coco Solo, then moved to Philadelphia, decommissioned on 6 June 1931, but reactivated 3 February 1941, returning to New London in June for training until decommission on 11 September 1945. She was sold on 4 September 1946.

US Navy ww2 O4

USS O-4 underway
O-4 was from the same yard. She was commissioned on 29 May 1918 (Lieutenant Robert H. English) and operated off Philadelphia. On 24 July she was mistook for an U-boats and fired upon by an armed merchantmen but made a quick dive after six hits and had no further damage. She was part of the 20-submarine force of Newport which was recalled when she was in the Azores. She also trained sutdents in New London until 1931, and a tour at Coco Solo, decommissioned on 3 June, recommissioned on 29 January 1941 and back to training again until decommission on 20 September 1945. Her record as the oldest US sub in service was beaten by USS Picuda in February 1971.

US Navy ww2 O5

O-5 as modified in 1923
O-5 was built at Fore River, Quincy, commissioned on 8 June 1918 (George A. Trever), operating along the Atlantic coast. By October 6, 1918 she was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when Lieutenant (Junior Grade) William J. Sharkey noticed her batteries were venting off toxic gas, informing his commanding officer and returning to investigate when they exploded. O-5 departed Newport on 3 November 1918 but learned about V-Day arriving to the Azores. She served in the Submarine School at New London until 1923, made a tour at Coco Solo.

The salvage of O-5 by the crane ship Ajax on 29 October 1923
While in Limon Bay before transiting the canal she was accientally rammed and sunk by the United Fruit Co. Abangarez. Three died but 16 escaped. Two were later saved by local engineers and divers rigging cranes and equipment to lift her far enough to break the surface, and access the last unflooded compartment when the last two men were trapped. Due to the damage she was stricken on 28 April 1924, sold in December. This was an interesting lesson for future subs salvage operations by the Navy.

US Navy ww2 O6

Built in Fore River, O-6 was commissioned at Boston on 12 June 1918 (Lieutenant Carroll Q. Wright), and patrolled from Philadelphia, but she became the target of a friendly fire on 6 August 1918 off Hampton Roads as a convoy escort of five troop transports. She followed it surfaced, 2 nautical miles away at 12.5 knots but lost sight of the convoy in the darkness, then followed the expected track to catch up but on 7 August afternoon, sighted ships ahead believed to be the convoy. In fact it was another, and she was not reported. So at 15:00 as she was about to turn away for Delaware Breakwater the US cargo ship SS Jason spotted her, and chased her opening fire with a 5-inch (127 mm) gun from 3,000 yards (2,740 m), scoring five hits out of eight shots. O-6 attempted to dive but her conning tower was sholed and leaked, so she was forced to resurface, frantically flashing recognition signals while the crew waved the flag on deck. Jason however mistook the recognition signals as gun flashes and continued firing, soon joined by another armed cargo, but ceased when O-6 stopped, while USS Paul Jones was sent out to “accept surrender”. However she closed with O-6 and opened fire (which fell short) as warning and closed to 3,000 yards (2,700 m) to at last see the flag raised from her conning tower. There were no casualties but serious damage so O-6 was escorted to port on 8 August.
The crew later received a commendation and Lieutenant Wrightt promoted to lieutenant commander, awarded a Navy DSO with citation for “courage and coolness”. Later Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels stressed for better recoignition signals or methods.
On 2 November she was part of the 20-submarine forced bound to europe and recalled. She also became a training ship at New London and Groton, becoming in 1920 SS-67. She made a brief tour at Coco Solo and was sent in 1929 to Philadelphia and decommission on 9 June 1931. She was recalled on 4 February 1941 and returned to New London except for a trial run to Portsmouth in New Hampshire and assiting the seach for sunken USS O-9 (SS-70). On 7 December 1941, she trained crews off Portsmouth until 15 August 1945, decommissioned on 11 September, stricken and sold on 4 September 1946.

US Navy ww2 O7

Built at Fore River, Quincy, O7 was commissioned on 4 July 1918 (LtCdr Frederick C. Sherman) and she operated out of Philadelphia on coastal patrol, later part of the contingent of Newport that was recalled. She was part of the 1919 Submarine School at New London, made a quick posting Coco Solo for maneuvers in 1924 and back to New London, then by 1930, Portsmouth and Washington, DC tehen back to New London, decomm. in Philadelphia 1 July 1931 but recalled on 12 February 1941 and back to New London in May untim 2 July 1945, stricken, sold on 22 January 1946.

US Navy ww2 O8

O-8 in the interwar
“O-8 was laid down on 27 February 1917 by Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on 31 December 1917 sponsored by Mrs. Alice C. Burg, and commissioned on 11 July 1918. During the final stages of World War I, O-8 operated out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on coastal patrol duty from Cape Cod to Key West, Florida. She departed Newport, Rhode Island, on 2 November 1918 with other subs ordered to duty in European waters; the duty was cancelled, however, as the Armistice with Germany was signed before the vessels reached the Azores.
The end of the “war to end all wars” did not terminate O-8’s career; she now operated in a training capacity at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut. In 1924, she sailed for duty in Panama, where she was classified a second line submarine on 25 July 1924. Reverting to a first liner on 6 June 1928, she sailed from New London in February 1931 to Philadelphia and decommissioned there 27 May.
The imminence of World War II sparked the recall to service. O-8 recommissioned at Philadelphia on 28 April 1941, with Lt. John S. McCain, Jr. taking command.[3] In June she returned to Submarine School, New London to train students there until war’s end.
Departing New London on 25 August 1945, the ship steamed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and decommissioned there on 11 September 1945; she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 11 October 1945 and was sold to John J. Duane Company of Quincy on 4 September 1946. ”

US Navy ww2 O9

Underwater wreck of O-9
commissioned on 27 July 1918.
Service history
During the final months of World War I, O-9 operated on coastal patrol and protected the Atlantic coast from U-boats. She departed Newport, Rhode Island, on 2 November 1918 for Britain, in order to conduct her first war patrol. However, the end of the war came before O-9 reached Europe.
After the war, O-9 continued in Naval service and trained submarine crews at the Submarine School at New London, Connecticut. Proceeding to Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, in 1924, the boat was reclassified to a second line submarine during her year there. Returning to operate at New London, O-9 reverted to a first line submarine on 6 June 1928. Sailing up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in January 1930, the submarine returned to New London in March; the following February, she sailed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to decommission there on 25 June 1931.
Remaining on the Naval Vessel Register, O-9 was recalled to training service as American involvement in World War II became more inevitable. The 12 Tambor-class submarines were already nearing completion and 73 Gato class boats had already been ordered when O-9 was recommissioned at Philadelphia, on 14 April 1941, and went to New London on 31 May.
In all, eight of the original ten O-boats were recommissioned to serve as training submarines in the Second World War. (The O-5 had been sunk after a collision in 1923 and the O-1 had been scrapped in 1938.) O-9, in particular, required extensive work, and still suffered mechanical problems even after being returned to service.
On the morning of 19 June 1941, O-9 and two of her sisters, O-6 and O-10, left as a group from the submarine base in New London, for the submarine test depth diving area east of the Isles of Shoals. Upon reaching their designated training area the following day, some 15 mi (24 km) off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, O-6 made the first dive, followed by O-10. Finally, at 08:37, O-9 began her dive. At 10:32, O-9 had not returned to the surface.
Rescue ships swung into action immediately. Sister ships O-6 and O-10, submarine Triton, submarine rescue ship Falcon, and other ships searched for O-9. That evening, pieces of debris with markings from O-9 were recovered. In water 450 ft (140 m) deep, she was thought to be crushed, since her hull was only designed to withstand depths of 212 ft (65 m).[1]
Divers went down from 13:00 on 21 June until 11:43 on 22 June. Divers could stay only a short time at the 440 ft (130 m) depth but nonetheless set endurance and depth records for salvage operations until those operations were cancelled, as they were considered too risky. Rescue operations were discontinued on 22 June. The boat and her 33 officers and men were declared lost as of 20 June. On 22 June, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox conducted memorial services for the 33 officers and men lost on the boat.
Sonar image of USS O-9 by NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
On 20 September 1997, based on several years of research by Glen M. Reem, O-9 was finally located. Salem, New Hampshire-based Klein Sonar Company provided a vessel and sonar equipment which were used to discover O-9’s final resting place. Her hull has been crushed from just abaft the conning tower all the way to the stern, though the forward hull appeared intact. There are no plans to salvage O-9. Her exact location is secret and the area has been designated an official naval burial ground.
O-9 was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 23 October 1941.

US Navy ww2 O10

O-10 served during World War I operating out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on coastal patrol against German U-boats until 2 November 1918, when she departed Newport, Rhode Island with other submarines for service in European waters. However, the Armistice with Germany was signed before the ships reached the Azores, and the ships returned to the United States.
In 1919, O-10 joined others of her class at New London, Connecticut, to train submarine crews at the Submarine School there. In 1924, O-10 steamed to Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone where she was reclassified as a second-line submarine on 25 July 1924. Returning to operations at New London, she reverted to first-line duties on 6 June 1928. She continued at New London until January 1930, when she sailed north to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, returning to New London in February. She continued training duties until February 1931, when she sailed to Philadelphia, decommissioning there on 25 June.
With the approach World War II, there was a recognized need for numerous training submarines. O-10 recommissioned at Philadelphia on 10 March 1941 and went to New London in May. She departed on a trial run to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 19 June 1941, the day before O-9 failed to return. O-10 joined in the search for her sister ship but found no trace of her. At 1655 on 22 June, Triton, with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on board, fired a 21-gun salute for the crew lost on the ill-fated vessel. Returning to New London, O-10 trained crews there until war’s end. She then sailed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and decommissioned there on 10 September 1945. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 11 October 1945, she was sold to John J. Duane Company of Quincy on 21 August 1946.

US Navy ww2 O11

Lake Torpedo Boat in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The boat was launched on 29 October 1917 sponsored by Mrs. Bernard M. Baruch, and commissioned at New York City on 19 October 1918. Commissioned too late for World War I combat service, O-11 joined other boats of her class at Cape May, New Jersey, in 1919. On 20 September 1919, she was placed in commission, in reserve, at Cape May and steamed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in October; workmen at Philadelphia spent months working on the boat before she departed for Coco Solo.
The arrival of a submarine squadron at Coco Solo in 1913 had demonstrated the usefulness of the boats, the base continued as a distant submarine overhaul and testing area into the 1920s. O-11 reported there in 1922; after deck crews had brought her up to prime efficiency, she took several test dives off Panama in spring 1923. In October, she sailed to Philadelphia.
O-11 decommissioned at Philadelphia 21 June 1924 after just five and a half years of service, and was turned over to the Commandant, Navy Yard, Philadelphia. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 9 May 1930, the boat was sold in July 1930.

US Navy ww2 O12

O-12 as USS Nautilus during the Wilkins-Ellsworth arctic expedition. Note the probe forward and absence of extrernal hull, and portholes. She used her diving planes to submerged, and modified ballasts.
O12 was commissioned on 18 October 1918 and joined SubDiv 1 in Coco Solo. In 1921 she earned a Battle Efficiency award/Pennant (“E”) and trophy for gunnery. She was decommissioned on 17 June 1924, in Philadelphia reserve, but stricken on 29 July 1930 to be leased to the US Shipping Board Administration, then converted a research submarine for the Wilkins-Ellsworth’s Arctic Expedition, returned to the Navy, but towed on 30 November 1931 in Byfjorden, scuttled.

US Navy ww2 O13

O-13 was was conducting submerged trials in Long Island Sound (she was built there) for yard’s trials, on 5 October 1918, when she was rammed USS Mary Alice, her escorting patrol boat in a circular run off Bridgeport. She was badly damaged but Mary Alice sank rapidly. She however survived, and rescued Mary Alice’s crew, including Captain William A. Gill (President of the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey) and after repairs on side was eventually commissioned at NyC for fitting out by 27 November 1918. She make a shakedown between New Jersey and New York until 8 October 1919 and had another overhaul at Philadelphia. She was then sent to Cape May on 8 March 1920, and was underway on 1 April for the Caribbean Sea via Key West and Cuba to Coco Solo. For the next three years she operated there, at the Submarine Base in SubDiv 10, making exercizes between the Caribbean and Pacific, stopping in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru. On 15 October 1923 she proceeded back to Philadelphia, and was decommissioned on 11 June 1924, reserve, stricken on 9 May 1930, sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 O14

O-14 was built at California Shipbuilding Co. Long Beach (California) commissioned 1 October 1918. After shakedown training she sailed to Cape May in New Jersey, 1919. By September, she was placed in reserve commision, by October she she ha a short refit at Philadelphia, and spent 1922 at Coco Solo, then Cuba for more trials and tests the formation exercizes by February, off the Virgin Islands by March, and back to Coco Solo. May, saw her with O-15, O-16, in diving operations until 1923 as part of SubDiv 10. November saw her back to Philadelphia, decommissioned on 17 June 1924, stricken 9 May 1930 and sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 O15

O-15 was built at Long Beach, commissioned on 27 August 1918. After training, shakedown, she patrolled along the Atlantic coast and had an overhaul in Philadelphia, until 20 September 1919 but was mothballed in reserve, at Cape May, New Jersey. April 1920 saw her reactivated, sent to Coco Solo for another overhaul and experimental tests, training cruises in and around Cuba-Virgin Islands and back to Coco Solo in April, new overhaul and Philadelphia in November 1923, decommissioned 11 June 1924, stricken 9 May 1930, BU.

US Navy ww2 O16

O-16 was built at Long Beach, commissioned on 1 August 1918. She barely had the time to train off the east coast until V-Day, entered drydock on 20 September 1919 for overhaul. By October she sailed to Philadelphia when taking fire in her superstructure foring her back for repairs on 29 December. By 1922, O-16 she took part in manoeuvers at Coco Solo, and diving tests and later with O-12, O-14, O-15 and sub tender USS Bushnell in Guantanamo Bay on 26 January, then the Virgin Islands and back to Coco Solo in April, for a short overhaul. November 1923 she her sailing to Philadelphia, decommissioned on 21 June 1924, stricken on 9 May 1930, scrapped for the London Naval Treaty limits on 30 July 1930.

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