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The R-Boats
Page 1 (R-1 thru R-13) | Page 2 (R-14 thru R-27)


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The R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9 and the S-3 and S-4, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin on Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers. Later, in April 1921, SubDiv 9 was transferred to San Pedro and arrived there on June 30, 1921. We know this photo was taken on the 1919 trip since the R-9 did not transfer to the Pacific until 1924 and she is seen in these photos.

US Navy Photo


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Submarine Division 9 plaque displaying the number "9" as a Chinese dragon. The head is a little hard to see. What looks like a horn above the head is actually one half of the dragon's mustache. Near the base of the mustache, to the right, are two dots which are the eyes. The rest of the mustache points down. The mouth is open and fangs from top and bottom jaws are almost touching.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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The R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9 and the S-3 and S-4, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin on Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers. Later, in April 1921, SubDiv 9 was transferred to San Pedro and arrived there on June 30, 1921. We know this photo was taken on the 1919 trip since the R-9 did not transfer to the Pacific until 1924 and she is seen in these photos.

Original Photo in the Collection of Ric Hedman


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The R-Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers. Later, in April 1921, SubDiv 9 was transferred to San Pedro and arrived there on June 30, 1921. Seen bow on from left to right are the submarine tender Camden, the R-1, R-2, R-4, R-5, R-6, R-10 and R-9.

US Navy Photo


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Another picture taken just a few moments after the picture above was taken of the R-Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers.

US Navy Photo


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The R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin with Manhattan's west side skyline visible in the background.

US Navy Photo


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The R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden at the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers. Later, in April 1921, SubDiv 9 was transferred to San Pedro and arrived there on June 30, 1921. We know this photo was taken on the 1919 trip since the R-9 did not transfer to the Pacific until 1924 and she is seen in these photos.

US Navy Photo


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R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, circa December 1919, moored to the submarine tender Camden in this indistinct photo of the Manhattan skyline taken from the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan's west side for a port visit en route to the Gulf of Mexico for big fleet maneuvers.

US Navy Photo


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R -Class submarines of Submarine Division 9, in an undated photo taken at the the piers at 54th street in New York most likely taken circa April/May 1920 after the return from the winter war games in the Gulf of Mexico.

US Navy Photo


R-Boats Pearl Harbor 1925

R-Boats Pearl Harbor 1925. Left to Right; USS R-8, R-1, R-7, R-5 and R-6


Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

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Navy Day October 27, 1930. The location is purported to be Pearl Harbor. Six R-Class submarines are moored to a central pier and have "dressed ship" for the occasion with signal flags. Also seen are awnings suspended over the deck and hatch areas in attempts to keep the interior cool. The photo is of poor quality since it was probably taken with a small hand held camera that moved as the shutter was snapped.

Original Snapshot In The Private Collection Of Ric Hedman


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USS R-1 and R-2 in the locks at Panama enroute to Philadelphia and New London circa January 1931. R-1 arrived at Philadelphia on 9 February and was decommissioned at the Navy Yard there on 1 May, 1931.

The USS R-2 was enroute to New London, Ct. and attached to Submarine Division 4 (SUBDIV 4) and for the next ten years served as a training ship for the Submarine School at New London and for the Yale University NROTC unit.

Photo provided by the late Rick Larson MMCM(SS) (ret.).


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USS R-3 and R-4 in the locks at Panama enroute to New London, Ct. circa January 1931. The USS R-3 was enroute to New London as a training ship at the Submarine School, New London for five months, she was then ordered on 6 May 1931 to Washington, DC, for air purification tests by the Naval Research Laboratory.

The USS R-4 was enroute to New London, Ct. and attached to Submarine Division 4 (SUBDIV 4) and for the next ten years served as a training ship for the Submarine School at New London and for the Yale University NROTC unit.

Photo provided by the late Rick Larson MMCM(SS) (ret.).


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USS R-5 and R-6 in the locks at Panama enroute to New London, Ct. circa January 1931. The USS R-5 with Divisions 9 and 14 transited the Panama Canal on 28 January 1931 and arrived at New London on 9 February. She was assigned to Division 4 on 1 April and acted as training ship for the Submarine School until sailing on 28 April 1932 for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she decommissioned on 30 June 1932.

The USS R-6 arrived on 9 February 1931 at Philadelphia Navy Yard where she decommissioned on 4 May.

Photo provided by the late Rick Larson MMCM(SS) (ret.).


USS R-1 in service during WW II
US Navy Official Photo


R-Boat Graphic Identification Marks
====================================
USS R-11 SS 88 has the =
USS R-12 SS 89 has the X
USS R-13 SS 90 has the star
USS R-14 SS 91 has the diamond
USS R-15 SS 92 has the square
USS R-16 SS 93 has the circle
USS R-17 SS 94 has the triangle
USS R-19 SS 96 has the cross
USS R-20 SS 97 has the three stripes


USS R-1 SS 78
USS R-1 SS 78

USS R-2 SS 79
USS R-2 SS 79
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)
USS R-2 SS 79
USS R-2 SS 79

USS R-3 surfacing
USS R-3 SS 80 surfacing

USS R-3
USS R-3. Maneuvering Watch stationed

USS R-3 fore deck
USS R-3 fore deck crew at work.

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The newly commissioned R-4 greets an American crew bringing the surrendered German WW I u-boat U-111, commanded by Lt. Commander Freeland A. Daubin, USN; to the United States. Date is circa April 19, 1919. The R-4 had been commissioned less than a month before and still has not received her 3"/50 deck gun. Submarine built by Electric Boat were still called "Holland Types". EB absorbed the "Holland Torpedo Boat Company". There is an unusual pipe structure on the bow that was to protect the "J" tube and "C" tube listening devices installed on the foredeck.

Photo from the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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Detail of the bow area of the R-4.The unusual pipe structure on the bow that was to protect the "J" tube and "C" tube listening devices installed on the foredeck.

Photo from the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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A Navy photo of the R-4 in Dry Dock shows the bow area of the R-4.The unusual pipe structure on the bow that was to protect the "J" tube and "C" tube listening devices installed on the foredeck. This arrangement has not been found on any other submarines.

US Navy Photo


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A press photo taken of the USS R-4 at what looks to be San Pedro, Calif. circa 1922 while she was attached to the submarine squadron there from June 30, 1921 to April 10, 1923 when she was deployed to Hawaii with Squadron 9.

This photo was used by the news papers for the story about the R-4 finding the seaplane trying to make a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Hawaii. The plane ran out of gas and was adrift for nine days before discovery by the R-4.

The port side of the submarine has been heavily painted by the newspaper to make detail stand out during the printing process.

Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


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A close-up from the photo above showing some crew on deck. It look like there is some bedding being aired draped over the deck gun. One man looks to be adjusting a mooring line and what appears to be an officer is standing just behind the man on the right.

The port side of the submarine has been heavily painted by the newspaper to make detail stand out during the printing process.

Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


USS R-4 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174
USS R-4 on 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174

Detail USS R-4 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174
Detail of USS R-4 on 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174.
The Conning Tower of the newly launched Shark can be seen to the left of the R-4 con.


Detail USS R-4 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174
Detail of USS R-4 on 21 May 1935 at the Electric Boat Company launch of USS Shark (P-3) SS 174.
The big flag is the Electric Boat Company flag flying from a staff attached to the periscope shears housing.


Crew USS R-4 1943

Crew photo USS R-4 May of 1943 when she was stationed at Key West as a target boat. Andrew Stalma MoMM 2/c was aboard the R-4. (Not shown in photo) He was on watch in the enginroom waiting for the R-12 to return the day she sank. This photo submitted by Ron Stalma whose father Andrew Stalma MoMM 2/c served aboard the R-4 during WW II



USS R-4 SS 81
This photo was taken September 21, 1938 at Sub Base, Groton, Ct.
The Left hand sub is unidentified but the right hand sub is the USS R-4.

Thanks to Dave Johnston for this information.

The 1938 huricane sent so much water up the Thames River that the pier these two boats were moored to was submerged by the tide. You can see the mooring lines from the boats to the dock going into the water.

The huricane made landfall in Suffolk County on Long Island, New York on September 21, 1938 as a strong Category 3 hurricane on the present-day Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale with a central pressure of 946 mbar (hPa).It then traveled across Long Island Sound into Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and finally into Canada while still moving at an unusually high speed.

The hurricane hit Long Island around 3:30 p.m., which was just a few hours before astronomical high tide. At this time the eye was about 50 miles across and the hurricane was about 500 miles wide.

New London was first swept by the winds and storm surge; then the waterfront business district caught fire and burned out of control for 10 hours. Stately homes along Ocean Beach were leveled by the storm surge. The permanently anchored 240-ton lightship at the head of New London Harbor was found on a sand bar two miles away.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-4 SS 81

Another view of the above storm


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The USS R-4 hauling out on the Marine Railway at Key West Florida circa July 1941. The R-4 was stationed at Key West for the duration of WWII working with the Sonar School and making patrols in the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel. She spent time at Port Everglades March 11 to April 15, 1945 then the R-4 returned to Key West to prepare for inactivation.

On June 1, 1945 she was withdrawn from active duty and on the 4th she got underway for Philadelphia. Escorted by SC-1001 she arrived at Philadelphia on June 8, decommissioned on the 18th and was struck from the Navy list July 11, 1945 . The following January, 1946, she was sold for scrap to the North American Smelting Co.

US Navy Photos

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The USS R-4 hauled out on the Marine Railway at Key West Florida circa July 1941. The hull has under gone scrapping and she now has primer paint covering her bare metal. Her anchor has been removed, maybe for scraping and painting.

US Navy Photos

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The USS R-4 hauled out on the Marine Railway at Key West Florida circa July 1941. The hull has under gone scrapping and she now has primer paint covering her bare metal. Her bottom mounted mushroom anchor can be seen behind the first set of keel blocks. Her side mounted sonar is seen as an oval aft of that and the Fessenden Oscillator is seen just above the the officer or chiefs head.

US Navy Photos

USS R-5 SS 82
USS R-5 SS 82. Photo probably taken in 1922.
This photo is from a 1923 year calendar

USS R-5 SS 82
USS R-5 crew close up.

USS R-5
USS R-5 circa 1922.
USS R-6 SS 83
USS R-6 SS 83

USS R-6
USS R-6 shown in the background to this grouping of sailors standing on the deck of another submarine. The open hatch is the torpedo loading hatch It is probably fair to say these men are probably Torpedomen and have just finished a days work loading "fish".
The deck guns seem to be 3"/50 caliber.

Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

R-6 bow on surface
Due to a malfunction in one of her torpedo tubes, R-6 sank, on 26 September 1921, in San Pedro Harbor but was refloated on 13 October 1921 due to the combined efforts of Submarine USS R-10 (SS-87) and USS CARDINAL.
From 26 February to 2 March 1923, R-6 was used by Twentieth Century-Fox in making the motion picture, "The Eleventh Hour." On 16 July 1923, R-6 was transferred to the Territory of Hawaii where she remained for the next eight years engaged in training and operations with fleet units.

THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS ARE THE PRIVATE PROPERTY OF THE GARGAN FAMILY AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT THEIR EXPRESSED PERMISSION.
The R-6 was the first and last submarine of Michael Raymond Gargano, Signalman 2nd Class, service. He had been on a Destroyer Escort through most of World War II. After the war he worked on subs for General Electric including many years at Electric Boat in Groton.
Thank you Ray for sharing your family history.

R-6 crew 1944 45 time frame
USS R-6 crew 1944, 1945 time frame. Michael Raymond Gargano, Signalman 2nd Class is fifth man from the right in the back row.
This is the crew that did the early work on perfecting a US snorkle.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father Michael Raymond Gargano served on the R-6.

R-6 2 crew on deck r-10 alongside
USS R-6. 2 crew are relaxing in port. The USS R-10 is moored to the right.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 2 crew on deck r-10 alongside
USS R-6. 2 crew are relaxing in port. The USS R-10 is moored to the right.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 2 Gargano
USS R-6 topside watch. The view is looking forward.
The bow of the USS R-10 is seen to the left.
Interesting feature, if you compare the R-6 forward hatch with images of older hatches from the 20's and 30's you can see how the technology changed. This is a modern submarine hatch very similar to those used today.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 Gargano
USS R-6 topside watch, left, and a crewman from either the R-6 or the R-10 moored to the right.
What the man is doing is also not understood though he may be taking a sounding using a leadline or fishing.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 snorkel mast.
USS R-6 snorkel mast. Mast is permently fixed to the Starboard side of the telescoping radio mast. The strange "hook" is the engine exhaust. The R-6 was the test platform for perfecting the US version of the Dutch invention of the snorkel. When the Germans invaded Holland they took the technology and incorporated it in to the U-Boat.
Note the engine room hatch and compare it with the torpedoroom hatch from an earier photo in this sequence.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 snorkel
USS R-6 heading to sea to test the snorkel and help develop techniques and technology .
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.

R-6 Gargano & the snorkel mast.
USS R-6 snorkel mast with Michael Gargano sitting on the engine exhaust. The head valve of the snorkel can be seen above Gargano's head. Mast is permently fixed to the Starboard side of the telescoping radio mast. The R-6 was the test platform for perfecting the US version of the Dutch invention of the snorkel.
To the left can be seen the R-6's Commissioning Pennent flying in the wind.
The USS Irex was the first US Submarine with an operational snorkel.
Photo taken August 1945 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida During snorkel testing operations.

Photo provided by Ray Gargan whose father served on the R-6.


"The R-6 was selected and the snorkel was fitted in Portsmouth during the period 10 April to 20 May 1945. The system was tested and provided information on the effects of the snorkel on personnel and equipment. Piping was installed on the main deck for simplicity and the snorkel mast was fixed in an upright position. R-6 took the system to Florida in August 1945 for testing in an ASW setting. The boat operated for three days in southern waters (out of Ft. Lauderdale) during the period 3 to 25 August 1945 and three major engine casualties were reported. However it is unknown whether these were due to the snorkel or were due to other factors such as age and maintenance. The system’s components were removed prior to the decommissioning of the boat in September 1945.

The next testing phase was held aboard the USS Sirago (SS-485) [Note: this is not the Odax (SS-484)] immediately after her commissioning (Commissioning was on 10 September 1945). Preliminary tests took place at Portsmouth during the period 11 to 13 September 1945. The tests were to determine if the design was adequate and the effect of snorkeling on diesel engines and personnel.

{Sirago had four Fairbanks Morse 10 cylinder D38 8-1/8 engines numbered 848587 through 848590. Only one engine was fitted with the exhaust ducting for testing, number 848588}

The tests on 11 September tested the machinery, calibration of the measurement equipment and personnel orientation. Engine standardization runs were carried out on the 12th. These included runs at snorkel depth (alongside) to determine the effect of the varying back pressure on engine speed and loading. On the 13th runs were made which simulated wave action on the (float type) head valve cycling. The system was dismantled starting on 17 September.

Electric Boat Company had been designing their own snorkel system. They asked the Navy to provide the data that had been compiled during the testing of R-6 and Sirago. The company proposed on 12 June 1945 that a system be put aboard either Clamagore (SS-343) or Cobbler (SS-344). The Navy Inspector of Shipbuilding selected Clamagore. However, in Electric Boat’s opinion the Clamagore was too close to completion and pushed for the Cobbler in a test plan dated 19 June 1945. BuShips approved the plan on 4 July 1945. The test was not a full snorkel system but a pressure variation test using just the power operated head valve. The head valve was to be fastened to a plate which was then mounted on the after engine room hatch. However, in the builder’s underway trials (prior to the head valve testing) the lube oil systems of the four main engines had problems and the testing was delayed. Electric Boat withdrew from further snorkel design for fleet submarines.

The Irex (SS-482) received the first ‘full up’ snorkel system in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard starting in December 1946. The system was evaluated in extensive testing during the period July 1947 to February 1948. She was then the first US submarine to become operational with a snorkel."

The above from "Old Subs Place" by Jim Christley http://www.oldsubsplace.com/Snorkel%20development.htm


USS R-7 SS 84
USS R-7 SS 84 in Pearl Harbor, T. H. 1925

USS R-7 in Pearl Harbor, TOH 1925
USS R-7 in Pearl Harbor, T.H. 1925
Photo provided by Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.)

Crew of USS R-7, photo taken 1925
Crew of USS R-7, photo taken 1925.
USS R-2 is on the right side of picture.
Unknown R-boat is on the left
Pictured are 3 Officers, 1 Chief Petty Officer and 22 Crew.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crew of R-7 on Deck
Crew of R-7 on Deck. USS R-2 and USS R-10 are in background.
From the looks of the photo there are men in dress whites on deck of the R-2.
It may be that the photographer was going to take their photo next.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

R-7 Officers on the bridge
R-7 Officers on the bridge.
Note the "boots" over the tops of the periscopes.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crew R-7
Crew R-7
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crew R-7
Crew R-7 with the 3"/50 caliber deck gun
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crew R-7
Crew R-7
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

R-7 engineers
Engineering department of USS R-7, photo taken 1925.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

RM2 Garson at sea
Garson, Radioman 2/class, of USS R-7, photo taken with heavy seas, 1925.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Chief Bloin
Chief Motor Machinist Mate Bloin relaxes with back decks awash, 1925.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Some heavy seas
Heavy seas wash the deck on the R-7.
Chief Motor Machinist Mate Bloin keeps tabs on the men on the aft deck as seas wash over it.
Man on back deck is wearing bathing suit, 1925.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Rough Weather
Rough or "Ruff" weather washes across the back deck of the R-7. 1925
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

More rough weather
More rough or "Ruff" weather washes across the back deck of the R-7, 1925.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Gunnery
A little gunnery practice on the R-7, 1925. Photo taken from the bridge.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Fish caught from the R-7
A few fish caught for dinner from the deck of the R-7. 1925
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

R-7 crew members McLaurin & Hively
R-7 crew members McLaurin & Hively at Sub Base Pearl Harbor. 1925
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crew of USS R-7, photo taken 1926
Crew of USS R-7, photo taken 1926.
The USS R-1 can be seen in the background.
There are 2 Officers,
1 Chief Petty Officer (to the right of the 2 officers)
and 27 Crew shown here.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

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According to the photo caption in the scrapbook the R-7 is undergoing a dockside upkeep in this photo. There is a man standing, half hidden, in front of the conning tower. He must be standing on the back of the deck gun to be at that height. One foot appears to be resting on the lifeline. Photo circa 1930.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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Crew posing for the camera while chipping paint on the R-7. There appears to be a destroyer in the dry dock with her. Looks like they are preparing to remove the bow planes hinge cover, it has "R 7 Port" written on it in chalk. They have yet to chip the paint from the lower bow, also they seem to be avoiding the draft marks. Cira 1930.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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Another view of the R-7 in dry dock showing the bow with bullnose and torpedo tube shutter doors. The Bow planes hinge cover shows the "R 7 Port" marking and that on lt the upper half has had paint removed. A crew member is in the bottom of the dry dock. He probably has the messy job of chipping paint from the mushroom anchor seen hanging from the bottom of the sub on the right side of the photo. circa 1930.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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Close-up of the R-7 crewman and the mushroom anchor he has been working on. This is the same kind of anchor used today on our modern submarines. circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The R-7 commissary man has out done himself. This is a holiday meal laid out for the crew. It could be Thanksgiving or Christmas. The scrapbook gives no indication. The cook moved as the photo was being taken so we can't get a good look at his face. Behind him is the ever present Navy coffee pot with hot coffee available at all times of day or night. It can be seen that this space, when not used for eating, could be used as a workshop as evidenced by the vise on the counter to the left side. The counter also holds several decorated cakes. When not in use, the tables and benches could be collapsed and stored away.circa 1930.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The R-7 engine room. It is not not totally clear in what direction the view is but I'm inclined to think the view is looking aft to the motor room. circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The crew has caught a large dolphin or Mahi-mahi. The bottom of the fish to the right in this photo and barely seen is the large dorsal fin to the left. It appears that one of the Asian Mess Attendant is examining the catch. The rest of the crew look on. On the back of the submarine can be seen two large "pipes". This is the normal storage location for the torpedo loading King post, (right) and Boom, (Left). circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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A better look at the Mahi-mahi. The bottom of the fish is to the left in this photo. The large dorsal fin can't be seen in this photo. The Asian Mess Attendant who was looking at the fish in the previous photo is now standing behind the fish. Another Asian Mess Attendant can be seen on the aft deck of the conning tower to the right of the flag. One of teh subs officers is seen on the bridge. circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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A detail from the above photo showing the two Mess Attendants and the ships officer. circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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A detail showing the face of one of the Asian Mess Attendant. He could be Chinese or Japanese, both were recruited into the Navy to serve as Officers Mess Attendants during this time period. circa 1930

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman


Brief stories related by Guy Covert USS R-7 1942 to 1943 Chief Covert also was a plank owner of the USS Trutta (SS 421) and then after two war patrols transferred to the sub tender USS Proteus and was part of the surrender and occupation forces of Japan. He also served aboard the USS Carbonero SS 337. Re-commissioned the USS Capitaine SS 336 in 1957. Chief Covert had e-mailed me these brief snapshots of his life aboard the R-7 as he found time. This helps us to understand what life was like for our early submariners and appreciate the comforts we take for granted in today's navy submarine service.



Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret. passed away May 26th, 2003.
He is now on Eternal Patrol as we say in the submarine service.


There is a port of no return, where ships
May ride at anchor for a little space
And then, some starless night the cable slips,
Leaving an eddy at the mooring place...
Gulls, veer no longer. Sailor, rest your oar.
No tangled wreckage will be washed ashore.
Leslie Nelson Jennings
"Lost Harbor"



My impression is that the mission of the older boats were pretty well defined. The "O" boats were the school boats in New London. The "R" boats were in two squadrons. One in Key West and one in St George, Bermuda [my squadron] It was a tiny island [Ordnance Island] that was separated from the town square by a small channel about 40 ft wide. 

Our mission of course, was being target for antisubmarine warfare, plus training of submarine personnel. There was a tremendous turnover in captains to seamen, a guy would barely qualify and he was on his way to the fleet. Some of the new boats were going in commission, with a nucleus of eight or ten qualified people. 

I spent almost two years on the "seven" boat and went from SN on up to TM/1c. I longed to get out to the fleet but had to wait. Had to be a few of us hanging around. As it was, it got interesting now and then and I did finally get to a new boat in later 43. 

One more item: I am sure you know the personnel complement was originally two officers and twenty two enlisted. We went to about thirty six enlisted and four or five officers. We lived in barracks as there was very little living space on the boat. Most of the time while on local OPS, one section would have duty and stay aboard. The other two could have liberty and sleep in the barrack as they chose. The two sections would take the boat out for the day and be met and tied up to the dock in the evening, by last nights duty section. 

We did get underway, sometimes for seven or eight days. The comfort arrangements for those times was interesting. 

Guess you knew that the "R" boat hulls were riveted. I didn't know much about construction but some how the idea of rivets just didn't appeal to me. 

Well one morning on local OPS, it occurred to me, that I had pumped the torpedo room bilges three times and there had been no activity that would cause the flooding. 

I looked down the side of the tubes and could see a flow of water from under the sheet cork insulation that extended part way into the bilges. I yanked off a two foot section of the cork and "POW" a stream of water about a half inch in diameter fired out. You wouldn't believe how much water can come out of a little hole like that. With a little damage control we blocked the leak. 

When we got back into port, we were able to pump up enough to put the offending rivet above the waterline. About thirty minutes work by our trusty welder and a dab of black paint, every thing was like new. All of which didn't improve my trust in rivets. 

One more little random item; on the hull outside the torpedo room area there was two large resonators. They were about two feet in diameter. One port and one stbd. We never used them but my idea was that they could be driven a -la a model "T" horn. Other boats being the same frequency, would resonate and they could communicate with each other. 

About the only other means of detection and communication was the J.K. sound head. It was mounted forward and operated from the torpedo room, it was essentially a highly directional microphone. The operator would rotate the head and listen for propellors etc. He would transmit the bearing etc. to the OD. 

The ET rating hadn't come along at that time, so the radioman was in charge of all things electronic. 

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret. 


There was no hydraulics so operation of the valves was limited to the location of the valve. Most important was the main vents. On the diving alarm the cook in the after battery and torpedoman in the torpedo room would open the vents. On a buzzer signal they would close them, three buzzes, cycle the vents. The valves all had wheels with one exception. 

There was no low pressure blower to bring the boat up to surface trim so the trim pump had to do the job. So the ballast tanks were interconnected by a tunnel in the keel called the "main drain". The tanks were equipped with large flood valves, which had to be closed during the pumping operation. The valves were operated with large levers called kingstons. They were grouped in the starboard aft corner of the control 

and, as I remember, were operated by the chief on watch. The levers extended out of the deck and were about three feet high. They required a lot of weight to operate them. When the diving alarm went, the operator would place both feet on the bulkhead and lean back against the levers. It was called "walking up the bulkhead". Some time when a dive was eminent, the valves would be opened and we would "ride the vents". 

One day we made a dive and it was very important that we stay down. Every 

thing was ok, except we couldn't get the nose down to level keel. All hands, not on watch, were sent to the torpedo room and remained there all day. Chow was brought forward and no one went aft, except when necessary. 

We noted that forward trim could not be flooded at all and it could be pumped quite freely. In port we pumped trim dry and pulled the trim valve. We confirmed our suspicion that the valve had come unscrewed from it's stem. It was acting like a check valve and would close under pressure. 

The valve was screwed on to a large diameter flange which was safetied by a taper pin through the outer circumference of the threads. Electrolysis had destroyed the taper pin. Later we pulled all valves in the torpedo room and found similar problems. The monel pins had been replaced with brass, some where back down the line. 

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret. 


Just thought of a little item that might be of interest. It was an R boat that was in the late thirties trade between England and the US, which was exchanging some older ships for base rights. She was repainted renamed the P-512, and was birthed with us in Bermuda. The crew was mixture of English, Scotch, Canadian and Irish. They were great fellows and we got along fine. 

We did notice a few differences of operation. The crew would all go ashore except one. He would start a battery charge, bring a deck chair a magazine and a cup of tea topside and go below about thirty minute intervals to check progress of the charge. When the charge was complete, he would disappear. 

We thought it was funny when they fired the three inch deck gun. They tied a lanyard to the trigger and went behind the bridge to pull the string. {can hardly say I blamed them. I was pointer on our gun.} 

Used to come topside to see them get underway. The skipper would invariably give the deck apes a thorough tongue lashing. 

One of our officers had acted as liaison officer with some of the English ships. He said they must have all been damn fools or the bravest suns of guns in the world. They would strip a row boat for action with a destroyer. 

Don't know which number the former R boat was. Suppose it could be found in the archives. ( The USS R-17 was loaned under the lend lease program to the English and renamed P-512 )

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret. 


The engine room contained two diesels of around four or five hundred horse power. They were clutched to a shaft that passed through the bulkhead into the motor room [later became the after torpedo room] and drove a motor, which also doubled as a generator. The motor was clutched to the propellor shaft. 

Under way, the engine would drive the propellor through the motor. The armature of the motor would just free wheel until an excitation was applied. It would then produce a current that could be used to charge the battery. The current could be used for furnishing power for other uses. When the power used this way equaled the output of the battery, we were carrying a "zero float" and conserved our charge. 

On diving the engine would be unclutched from the shaft the boat would operate on the battery motor combo. The boat would also use this combo for backing down. In port, the motor was declutched from the shaft. It would, then, do its duty as a generator for charging the battery. 

Mounted over the number one engine clutch was the throne. Most of the time on local ops we made it through the day till we got back in port. But, on extended ops, its use became an act of pure necessity. We would shed our dignity and bare our soul to the smirks of the passers by, and also a fine oil vapor which could leave an outline of the parts that were not protected from exposure. 

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret 


There was no induction. ( A large pipe to carry air into the boat and for air for the engines to use.) When the engines were running all hatches and doors from the bridge to the engine room had to be open. This almost brought us to grief. 

It was on a weekend day when we got orders to get underway to ride out a storm. We rounded up all the unfortunates that hadn't gone on liberty and got underway with about twenty or so crew. 

We rode out the night and submerged at day light. We ran till about dark and surfaced. About then all hell broke loose. The old gal rolled over, we could swear, almost flat on her side. Things were flying all over. A huge Niagara came pouring into the control room. It seemed like a long long time before she finally righted and they got the bridge hatch closed. 

Our battery was almost completely drained and we were adrift for about three days. Our food stores were practically nil and we went through them in a short time. We ate emergency rations, which was then a locker full of pork and beans. 

A hatch was carefully opened and quickly closed to provide some ventilation. The sea finally flattened out enough for us to open the hatches and get the old engines going. 

Since we had been drifting blind for a long time we were disoriented as to position. The radioman finally got a fix on a Hamilton radio station and were headed for port. 

When we finally arrived, there was a large bunch of guys on dock and we were surprised at the greeting. We were told that we were reported missing. 

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret 


The torpedo room was surprisingly bright and cheerful, after you had seen the boat from the outside. 

It was fairly roomy, as it only carried six or eight bunks, which didn't take up much room. It was kept brightly white. The deck covering was of canvass construction and painted a bright green shellac. It was easily maintained, a fresh coat made it look like new. 

Quite a few guys hung out up there. For a nap, you would pull a bale of rags under your head and stretch out on deck. Lotta guys took their meals there. There was no mess tables so we would fill our trays and carry them to a convenient place on the deck. Incidentally, the quality of chow, was in the best submarine tradition. 

There was four torpedo tubes. Some of the boats had the barrels white. The tube doors were brass and shone like mirrors from years of bright work polish. 

Torpedoes were stored in racks alongside the bulkhead. There was two traveling chainfalls running down the overhead. We would pick the torpedo up, at its center of balance with the chainfall, line it up with the tube and insert it up to the hoisting strap. The strap would be removed and an adapter would be inserted in the tail. We would hook a block and tackle into it and pull the torpedo the rest of the way into the tube. 

There was no TDC, (Torpedo Data Computer). Gyro angle would be ordered from control. We would engage a spindle and set what angle was ordered. The spindle would be withdrawn before firing. 

Tube shutters and outer doors were opened manually. Forward Trim served as the W.R.T. (The "Water 'Round Torpedo" tank, used to flood the tube prior to opening the outer torpedo tube shutter doors and to drain the tube after the torpedo had been fired and the outer doors had been closed).

The room could be [presumably] used as an escape chamber. I'm glad we never had to test the theory. At that time escape buoys etc. had been removed from all boats, due to the possibility of a depth charge marking a convenient target. 

There was a mushroom anchor under the keel, which could be operated from inside the room, we called it the "submerged anchor". I recall using it once, after yard overhaul. We flooded to almost negative buoyancy, than dropped the anchor and slowly wound ourselves down to test for leaks. 

So--that just about winds it up from here. It's been fun and I hope I have added little insight. The web has been great and I'll be spending a lotta time with it. 

Yours in a great brotherhood. 
Guy 

Guy Covert EMC (SS) Ret


10/05/1925 - USS R-8 (SS-85) Collided with USS Widgeon (AM-22) in Pearl Harbor
10/05/1925 - USS R-8 (SS-85) Collided with USS Widgeon (AM-22) in Pearl Harbor
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-8 conning tower fairwater damage
USS R-8 conning tower fairwater damage. Crew relaxing under awning next to deck gun.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-8 crew on deck
USS R-8 crew sitting on deck after the collision with the USS Widgeon (AM-22).
They appear to be an unhappy bunch.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS Widgeon (AM-22)
The USS Widgeon (AM-22) with which the USS R-8 collided stoving in her
periscopes and bridge structure on October 5, 1925. This photo was taken about
the time of the collision probably prompting the picture taker to take this photo.
The Widgeon was redesignated a Submarine Rescue Ship, ASR-1, June 22, 1936.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

R-8 Sailors
Sailors aboard the USS R-8 standing around the gun mount.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-9 and USS S-1 moored side by side
USS R-9 and USS S-1 moored side by side.
Navy Yard, Portsmouth, NH. Circa 1920's.
National Archives Photo

USS R-10, 9, 8, 4, 7, 6
9 R-class submarines in a dry dock
L to R, front to back
USS R-10, USS R-8, USS R-9
(unknown) USS R-4, USS R-7, USS R-6
(Unknown & unknown).
National Archives Photo

R-Boat moored at Sub Base New London, CT
R-Boat moored at Sub Base New London, CT

R-Boats with World War I markings on conning tower fairwaters
R-Boats with post World War I markings on conning tower fairwaters.
The USS R-11 is on the left with the two horizontal stripes.
The USS R-16 has the circle, the USS R-17 has the triangle
marking and the three stripes is the USS R-20.


An R-Boat at sea

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
R- Boat at sea.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
R- Boat at sea.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
R- Boat at sea.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
R- Boat at sea.

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
R-Boats at sea. This is a series of photos taken from the bridge of several
submarines. Which boats these are has been lost to us but the drama is still there.

Retrieving a torpedo

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
Retrieving a torpedo

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
Retrieving a torpedo

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
Loading a torpedo

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman
Prior to WW II submarines had to find and retrieve there own fired practice torpedos.
This series of photos shows that process while at sea.
The last photo may have been the owner of the photos taken during a torpedo loading
operation while the boat was in port. Circa 1920's. Location not known but presumed to be Hawaii.

USS R-9 SS 86
USS R-9 SS 86

Conning Tower of the USS R-10
Conning Tower of the USS R-10.
Sailor is on deck of submarine moored next to the R-10

Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-10 & R-6

USS R- 10 assisting in the recovery of the USS R-6 after it sank in San Pedro Harbor. Due to a malfunction in one of her torpedo tubes,R-6 sank, on 26 September 1921 she was refloated on 13 October 1921 due to the combined efforts of Submarine USS R-10 (SS-87) and USS CARDINAL



R-10 crew on deck
USS R-10 crew on deck during R-6 recovery

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USS R-10 with a bone in her teeth returning to port. Mooring lines are up out of the deck lockers and the line handling crew is topside. Two crewmen are sitting on the aft deck maybe making plans for when they are on Liberty that evening. A chief petty officer is sitting in one of the pointer/trainer seats on the 3'/50 deck gun. Location is unknown. circa 1921.

Photo provided by the late Rick Larson MMCM(SS) (ret.).


USS R-11 SS 88
USS R-11 SS 88
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Fields Snider whose Uncle, Harry Fields took the photo.

USS R-12
USS R-12 with X markings on conning tower.
National Archives Photo

USS R-12 doing a static dive
USS R-12 performing a static dive.
National Archives Photo

USS R-12 with 2 other R boats
USS R-12 with 2 other R-boats. All have special markings
The USS R-17 is the far boat with the triangle markings.
The USS R-16 has the circle in the middle.
National Archives Photo

USS R-12 backing out of her mooring
USS R-12 backing out of her mooring.
National Archives Photo

USS R-12 dockside
USS R-12 dockside.
National Archives Photo

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A snapshot photo of the USS R-20 and R-12 moored in Honolulu Harbor circa 1920. The submarine base in Pearl Harbor was just beginning construction in 1920 and only one pier was ready for use. Honolulu Harbor piers were used until the fledgling submarine base could be expanded to accommodate more vessels. The R-20 seen here is moored to the R-12, both subs were part of the flotilla of R-Class submarines ordered to Hawaii after WW I. The R-20 has been awarded the Battle "E" for proficiency and readiness.

Photo From The Private Collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-12 dockside

USS R-12 moored inboard of the R-20. Crew on deck. Three crew from the R-20 are seated on the framework that protects the "SC Tube" type hydrophone from damage. To their right is a sailor climbing out of the R-12 torpedo room hatch. Various sailors, civilians and chief petty officers can be seen on the dock.

Photo From The Private Collection of Ric Hedman


USS R-12 dockside

USS R-12 moored inboard of the R-20. Crew on deck. Three crew from the R-20 are seen in the center of the image. The man just to the right of the chief appears to not be wearing a jumper but dressed in just a sleeveless T-shirt. To the left in the image a lone sailor seems to be either looking into a suitcase or, perhaps, playing a portable wind-up gramophone. It is hard to tell due to lack of resolution in the image.

Photo From The Private Collection of Ric Hedman


USS R-13 underway
USS R-13 running on the surface.
National Archives Photo

R-13 underway
USS R-13 underway.

USS R-13 crew photo, Pearl Harbor
USS R-13 crew photo, Pearl Harbor. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-13 crew photo, close-up
USS R-13 crew photo, close-up. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-13 crew photo, close-up
USS R-13 crew photo, close-up. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-13 crew photo, close-up
USS R-13 crew photo, close-up. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-13 crew photo, close-up
USS R-13 crew photo, close-up. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS R-13 crew photo, close-up
USS R-13 crew photo, close-up. circa 1920's.
Photo from the private collection of Ric Hedman

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The USS R-13, SS-90, performed training for students at Sub School, New London prior to their deployment to the fleets. The crew stand for a formal photo taken Dec 09, 1940. The white square on the for deck is due to the censors obscuring the the newly installed deck mounted sonar head.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The crew of the USS R-13 stand at attention for this formal portrait. On the bridge are the three officers, Captain, XO and Engineer plus the helmsman, front left and the lookout standing on the periscope shears. The Chief of the boat and ten crew not on watch stand in ranks on deck.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The R-13 crew standing at attention on deck for a formal portrait. The ships deck gun is turned barrel to the conning tower fairwater which is its normal underway storage position. The emergency rescue buoy can be seen in the deck just forward of the crew. The ships gangway is lashed to the deck between the crew and chief. The sonar head is obscured behind the white square by navy censors.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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The bow of the USS R-13 showing the bow planes rigged out. Around and under the port bow plane housing recess can be seen the emergency towing cables that extend aft from the chain that passes through the towing fair-lead in the bow and extending aft along the port side of the hull. Engine problems were not uncommon with the early engines so being prepared for towing was normal.

Original Photo in the Private Collection of Ric Hedman

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A Nasty day to be topside watch aboard the USS R-13. This photo is taken sometime in the mid 1930's while the R-13 operated as a training submarine at New London Submarine Base in Groton, Conn. It is a nasty, rainy day and the morning topside watch has to perform "colors".

At 8 AM a signal is given at the base and all vessels raise the American flag. All personnel are to stop what they are doing and face the closest visible flag and salute as the flag is raised up the flagpole. In this case the flag is already attached to the flag staff and the man is waiting for the signal to place the staff into its holder.

The tent to the right is to keep rain out of the open hatch.

The sailor is wearing blues so that means the photo was taken between September 1 and May 31, otherwise he would be wearing summer Whites. He has a white garrison belt and the holster for a .45 caliber, 1911A pistol can be seen near his right arm. The belt holds close his heavy wool Peacoat and he is wearing a white hat under the hood of his raincoat. He is also wearing galoshes over his shoes. All in all, a nasty wet day on the Thames River.

Photo In The Collection Of Ric Hedman.



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