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The G-Boats

USS G-1
USS G-1 (ex- Seal) SS 19.5

USS Seal
USS Seal later to be USS G-1 SS 19.5 on launch day Feb. 8, 1911

Post launch picture USS Seal (G-1)
Post launch picture USS Seal (G-1) Feb. 8, 1911
National Archives photo

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The USS G-1 (ex Seal) seen here prior to here commissioning some time between November 17, 1911 when her name was changed from Seal and her commissioning on October 28, 1912. It seems to be summer based on how people are dressed. The crew on deck seem to be mostly civilian with a few exceptions. It is hard to see detail due to the poor quality of the photo. There does seem to be a officer on the bow, second from the left and an enlisted man just to the right of the forward ventilator on the higher deck. They seem to be doing something requiring diving as the left most man is clearly striped down for swimming and there seems to be a man handling a line or hose going over the side.. There are deck chairs on the raised deck forward of the bridge.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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A close-up of the photo above showing a bit more detail. The water is dead calm. They are in a bay perhaps. Date is circa summer of 1912.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The stern of the G-1 showing her name painted on the curve of the superstructure. What is most likely the engine room hatch is seen open. Date is circa summer of 1912.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The USS G-1 (ex Seal) seen here circa February 1918 frozen solid into about 18 inches of ice on the Thames River at the New London Submarine Base at Groton, Conn. There are several other photos further down the page that shows other submarines frozen into the river at about the same time.

There is another submarine on the other side of the pier. It is hard to say who it may be but a guess based on the little superstructure seen says it might be the USS G-2.

The arch seen behind the G-1 periscopes looks to be a snow covered hillside not the Gold Star Bridge which hadn't been built at that time.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

G-1 with possibly the H-1 or H-2
G-1 with possibly the H-1 or H-2. An unknown submarine is on the
other side of the G-1. Photo taken circa 1918.
National Archives photo

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USS G-1 hauled out at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, (date unknown). The doors to the two superstructure mounted torpedo tubes are open. The forward tube in the superstructure can be seen to be rotated to port. Superstructure mounted tubes was experimented with off and on through WW II.

National Archives Photo


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USS G-1 hauled out at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, (date unknown) with at least part of the crew posing for the photo. A hand full of yard workers are mixed in. The doors to the two superstructure mounted torpedo tubes are open. The tubes could be rotated to either side for firing. There were two internally mounted torpedo tubes also. The muzzle for the Starboard tube can be seen all the way to the right on the hull.

Photo from the Private Collention of the late Rick Larson MMCM (ret)


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Close-up of the crew and yard workers aboard the USS G-1. White spot near seated man is a photo defect.

Photo from the Private Collention of the late Rick Larson MMCM (ret)


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Simon Lake was a firm believer in the level dive and surfacing of submarines. To this end he would place three sets of dive planes on each side of the submarine. These can be seen here though the one to the left barely seen under the gangway is harder to see. He felt the angled dive of the Holland design submarines unsafe. The Navy would eventually agree with Holland on design. The level dive process took to long.

Photo from the Private Collention of the late Rick Larson MMCM (ret)


The USS G-1 getting underway
USS G-1 getting underway from the sub base New London, Conn. circa 1918.
National Archives photo

USS G-2 & G-1, 1915
USS G-2 & USS G-1 together circa 1915.
National Archives photo

USS G-1 along side the German U-117 after WW I
USS G-1 alongside the German U-117 after WW I.
Copyright Ric Hedman

USS G-2
USS G-2 (ex-Tuna) SS 27

USS G-2
USS G-2, this picture gives a better sense of scale for the boat.

USS G-2
USS G-2, this is a hand tinted picture of the G-2.

USS G-2
USS G-2, crew close-up.

USS G-2
USS G-2, crew close-up.

USS G-2
USS G-2, crew close-up.

USS G-2
USS G-2, crew close-up.

USS G-3
USS G-2 (ex-Tuna) SS 27

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The USS G-2 diving. The location is not certain but could be a selection of places where she conducted practice cruises that found her at Norfolk, Charleston, New York, Newport, and Provincetown. The shoreline looks to be too high for Provincetown but may be the Newport area.

Note that the flag staff and flag have not been removed so this may have been a dive made for publicity purposes, down and back up again. It is definitely a test dive as the "fish flag" is being flown from the number two periscope.

This photo was originally identified as the G-4 but the error was caught by Dave Johnston and brought to our attention.

Photo courtesy of Darryl Baker from the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum


USS G-2 tied outboard the USS G-4
USS G-2 tied outboard the USS G-4.
New London Submarine Base, 1917.

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The USS G-2 during her fitting out phase of construction. She is probably pretty close to being completed by the time this photo was taken. The small deck over the torpedo tube outer door has not been installed at this time. There is a man working over the side on the starboard side. He has his feet on a scaffolding board slung over the side and is crouched down. There is another workman going over the port side of the hull and a man standing on the top of the conning tower.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-2 shown taking a crew photo while at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 27, 1917.
Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-2 shown taking a crew photo close-up while at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 27, 1917.
Photo from the National Archives


G-4, G-2 and the L-8 frozen in at New London
G-4, G-2 and the L-8 frozen in at New London.
Milne Special Collections, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, N.H.

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The USS G-2, in the center, flanked by the G-4 on the left and the L-8 on the right, circa February 1918, New London submarine base. The ice was reported to have been as thick as 18 inches. The crewman on the fore deck of the G-2 is sweeping chipped ice way from the hatch.

Photo from the National Archives



Close-ups of G-2 crew working on deck.

Details of a Photo from the National Archives

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The USS G-2 crew portrait showing Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Joseph E. Austin in the front center with his dog. He is flanked by the six chiefs tallied in the notation on the photo. Only 17 of the 18 crew are seen. The 18th may have been the one taking the photo. Now, as then, "The 'Chiefs' ran the boat".

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-2, quite possibly in Boaton. On 23 August 1917 she left New London for instructional and experimental operations working out of Boston off the Boston Lightship. With students embarked, she assisted in proving out submarine detection devices for the Experimental Board embarked in the USS Margaret, (a former U.S. Steam Yacht) later USS SP-524 and in performing experimental problems with the submarine chaser SC-6.

Photo from the National Archives


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On October 1, 1918 the USS G-2 ran hard aground on Bartlett Reef while performing experimental work on sound detection devices along with training for the newly established Submarine School in the area of Block Island and Long Island Sound. In October of 1918 she ran up onto Bartlett Reef between Niantic and New London Connecticut harbors.

Photo from the National Archives


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On October 1, 1918 the USS G-2 ran hard aground on Bartlett Reef while performing experimental work on sound detection devices along with training for the newly established Submarine School in the area of Block Island and Long Island Sound. In October of 1918 she ran up onto Bartlett Reef between Niantic and New London Connecticut harbors.

NOAA Chart


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On October 1, 1918 the USS G-2 hard aground on Bartlett Reef. Vessel in foreground is trying to render assistance. Probably trying to get a tow line aboard the G-2.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-2 hard aground on Bartlett Reef. Vessel in foreground was trying to render assistance. She is pulling away with some speed in this photo.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-2 in a floating drydock at the Thames Towboat Company, New London, Connecticut, 1918. Quite possibly after her grounding on Bartlett Reef and her salvage.

Photo from the National Archives


USS Turbot (G-3) under construction
USS Turbot (G-3) under construction at the Lake Torpedo Boat Co.
September 28, 1911
National Archives Photo

Launching USS Turbot (G-3)
Launching USS Turbot (G-3) December 27, 1913
Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, Conn.
National Archives Photo

USS G-3 hauled out at Bridgeport, Conn
USS G-3 hauled out at Bridgeport, Conn, December 1915.
National Archives Photo

USS G-3 Hauled out
USS G-3 hauled out at Bridgeport, Conn December 9, 1915
National Archives Photo

USS D-1 and USS G-3 together
USS D-1 and USS G-3 together, May 4, 1920
Location, perhaps, Sub Base, Groton, Conn.
National Archives Photo

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A drawing from The Sun, March 14, 1915, of the Italian Laurenti design submarine that was used for the U.S. Submarine G-4.

chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, New York Sun


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The USS G-4 heading down the ways at Cramp Shipyards, Philadelphia, August 15, 1912. The strange looking bulge seen on the under-body of the bow just to the right of the diagonal brace is the port torpedo tube.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4 heading down the ways at Cramp Shipyards, Philadelphia, August 15, 1912. The stern of the submarine is becoming buoyant and starting to roll the sub to port. You can see the shipyard workers on deck moving and leaning to the starboard side in a reflex motion to the roll.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4 heading down the ways at Cramp Shipyards, Philadelphia, August 15, 1912. Now the stern is lifting off the craddle and water pressure is rolling her more to her to port side. The shipyard workers on deck are diving and scrambling to avoid being tossed into the water as she begins to float free of the building cradle.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4, seen on October 2, 1912, at the Cramp yard going through her 'fitting out' period where she will receive a majority of her piping, electrical and internal systems and habitability features.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4, date circa 1912, at the Cramp yard during her 'fitting out' period. A good top view of some of her more unusual features. The bow planes lay flat on the fore deck. They fold out and down an lock on to an axle that then rotates the planes to dive and rise positions. Hard to see at the stern, the stern planes operate like the bow planes and are partly extended. The port plane can be seen as a square shape just forward of the 'doghouse' on the stern. The starboard plane is actually seen edge on but its reflection can be seen in the water and you can seen its square shape there. In the fully extended position the both sets of planes would be flat to the water. Cramp yard slipways can be seen in the background.

Photo from the National Archives


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A few of the workmen from the Cramp Ship Yard that built the USS G-4. Seen are yard officials, shop and department supervisors and the craftsmen who were putting the G-4 together. Commissioning was still 14 months away.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4 at sea, most likely pre-WW I, circa 1914-15. Note the Allied signal bell on the fore deck aft of the hatch and the upper rudder all the way to the right, behind the two men.

Photo from the National Archives


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The USS G-4 at sea buries her bow, most likely pre-WW I, circa 1914-15. The upper rudder can be clearly seen in this photo.

Photo from the National Archives


USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 at sea pre WW I
USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 at sea pre WW I.
The position of the upper rudder says that the submarine
is making a port turn explaining the list the sub is showing.

Photo courtesy of Rick larson MMCM (ret)

USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 at sea pre WW I

USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 detail. Seen are upper rudder and the stern planes. Like the bow planes the stern planes could be rigged in when not in use. When diving they could be folded out and seated on trailer hitch looking pegs on the rotating arms to move the planes up or down.

Photo courtesy of Rick larson MMCM (ret)

USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 at sea pre WW I
USS G-4 (ex-Thrasher)SS 26 bridge detail.Commissioning pennet fly from radio mast.
Photo courtesy of Rick larson MMCM (ret)

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Ship's officers and crew posed on deck, 1917. She was then operating out of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, at Groton, Connecticut. The two officers (4th & 5th from left, front row) are Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Paul F. Foster (Commanding Officer) and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) William F. Callaway (Executive Officer).

Photo from the National Archives


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Photographed on board the submarine USS G-4, commanding officer Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Paul F. Foster, circa 1914-1915. Foster was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Vera Cruz, Mexico, on 21-22 April 1914. The G-4 looks to be a wet boat.

Photo from the National Archives


Ens. Paul Foster Captain USS G-4 SS 26

Ensign Paul F. Foster, USN Photographed circa 1914. Foster was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Vera Cruz, Mexico, on 21-22 April 1914.

Paul Frederick Foster was born on March 25, 1889 in Wichita, Kansas. He received a senatorial appointment from the State of Idaho to the U.S. Naval Academy. Following graduation in 1911, he served in the armored cruiser Washington and the battleship Utah as a midshipman and, in March 1912, was commissioned as an Ensign. On 21-22 April 1914, Foster participated at the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico, leading his landing company with skill and courage. For his "distinguished conduct in battle", he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

After submarine instruction on board USS Prairie, he reported on board USS G-4. In March 1915, Foster was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and, in early 1916, was placed in command of G-4.

Relocating to Ireland in December 1917, he was assigned to the submarine tender Bushnell in Bantry Bay, Ireland. Foster was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant in May 1918. While serving in Irish waters, he took command of the submarine L-2. Lieutenant Foster was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his role in the sinking of the German submarine UB-65 off the Irish coast on 10 July 1918.

National Archives Photo

Captain and XO USS G-4 SS 26, 1917

Ship's officers standing beside their submarine, at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut, in 1917. They are Lieutenant (Junior Grade) William F. Callaway (Executive Officer), at left, and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Paul F. Foster (Commanding Officer).

National Archives Photo

USS G-4 moored at New London
USS G-4 moored at New London Sub Base, CT.

Unknown sailor off the USS G-4
Unknown sailor off the USS G-4. Time unknown. He appears to be a MM or MoMM/1c.

Unknown G boat
This is the conning tower fairwater of either the USS G-2 or the USS G-3.
There are no identify markings to tell us who this is.

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