From PigBoats.COM

V-5 is seen here just prior to launch on December 17, 1929 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, ME. The submarine is dressed with flags and bunting. It was a cold snowy day. The white on the left foreground is snow. The smooth shiny surface is actually water. The tracks of the skid-way can be seen beneath the surface. V-5's aft torpedo tubes can be seen under the tip of the stern.

U.S. Navy photo

V-5 being maneuvered to the pier side after being launched during a snow storm. The funnels of two tugs can be seen on the other side of the V-5. Onlookers and members of the press can be seen standing in the snowstorm. Two cameramen can be seen carrying tripods and another, a helper most likely, is carrying equipment. The pennant flag on the right says "PORTS. NAVY YARD" for Portsmouth Navy Yard. The dark stripe midships is a small boat boarding access. A door will be fitted to it at a later date.

U.S. Navy photo

V-5 post launch with guests, family, and friends looking on as the huge submarine is moored and made fast to the pier. Spring lines can be seen running fore and aft from the cleat on the right. The dark stripe midships is a small boat boarding access. A door will be fitted to it at a later date. The people standing nearby give a good reference as to how large this submarine really was. The muzzle door of one of the non-firing deck torpedo stowage tubes can just be seen under the forward gun deck, underneath the officer that is leaning to his right.

U.S. Navy photo

Finishing the process of mooring V-5 to the pier following her launch. The periscope shears are not yet complete and the guns have not been installed. The angled object in the center is a powered ammunition hoist for the aft 6"/53 caliber gun. The shells and powder charges for these guns were too heavy to be lifted with man-power alone. A year and a half of fitting out work remained before she would be commissioned.

U.S. Navy photo

V-5 is photographed during builder's trials off Provincetown, Massachusetts in the fall of 1930. Upon commissioning on May 15, 1930 only the most rudimentary trials had been undertaken. Builder's trials continued for months after commissioning including a three month trip to the Caribbean.

To get a feeling for the scale of the submarine, just above the "V", on the bridge, are two crewmembers and another to the right next the edge of the bridge. The submarine was the largest in the world at that time at 371 feet long with a 33 foot beam.

Before the trials began V-5 traveled to Boston to take on supplies and ordinance, ie; projectiles and their powder cartridges for her 6"/53 caliber guns and 24 torpedoes, split between the forward and after torpedo rooms. These tubes could take the newly developed MK 14 torpedo which was 20 feet 6 inches long and 21 inches diameter. The previous 21-inch torpedo was the MK 10 Mod 3 at 16 feet 7 inches long.

Some torpedoes were most likely practice "fish" with dummy warheads filled with water. During her torpedo trails one of these practice torpedoes made a circular run and punched a hole in her superstructure. The newspapers called the torpedo "fickle" making it sound less dangerous than it was. This was a harbinger of bad things to come. In reality the Mk 14 had been rushed into service and inadequately tested. It was full of bugs that would only come out once the weapons were fired en masse during WWII.

Food was loaded for 3 months. She also had the latest in mechanical refrigeration allowing more perishable foods to be carried for longer times. She carried fuel to travel 15,000 miles.

The sub boasted some new features such as each crew member had two Momsen Lungs available to him. There were three escape trunks. The sub was large enough to have three galleys, one for enlisted crew, one for Warrant and Chief Petty Officers, and one for the Officers.

All 80 crew plus officers had a bunk to themselves. The crew was also provided with movies, and it was contemplated to equip the sub for the new talking movies since there was the space for their stowage.

The submarine also boasted of having eight showers and steam and electric heating. Electric motors were to be powering all equipment and the steering and diving operations. There is no mention of there being any hydraulics on the submarine.

She also conducted a deep driving trial and established what she thought must be an American record for a depth at 332 feet resting on the bottom of the Atlantic off Boone Island, Maine. Once on the bottom the sub remained there for about 45 minutes running tests on all the equipment and pumps.

She did experience a small leak in her after torpedo room on her ascent which the crew simply placed a bucket under to be taken care of later. Riveted hulls weeped and small leaks were common. The sub made several stops at 200 and 150 feet before surfacing.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

This is a nice two photo progression sequence of the submarine V-5 diving. She is on builder's trials off Provincetown, MA. on her last set of sea trials. Her last diving trials were performed between October 29 and October 31, 1930 off Provincetown as reported in the local newspapers.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Wire photo caption says: "Largest Submarine On Trial Run. The V-5, largest submarine in the US Navy, sinking into the water during speed tests held on her last trial trip off Provincetown, Mass." Her last diving trials were performed between October 29 and October 31, 1930 off Provincetown as reported in the local newspapers.

Original AP Wire photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

Crewman A.L. Rosenkotter of the V-5 demonstrates the use of the submarine's after escape hatch and the emergency escape device, known as a "Momsen Lung", during the V-5 builder's sea trials, July, 1930.

U.S. Navy photo

USS V-5's first Commanding Officer, LCDR John Herbert "Babe" Brown, Jr. standing on the deck next to the ship bell. The pedestal is a mount for a M2 .50 caliber machine gun. On the deck lays a deck wrench for opening and locking down hatch covers in the walking deck.

Brown had previously been the Commanding Officer of submarines C-2 (Submarine No. 13) and G-4 (Submarine No. 27) in World War I, then N-5 (SS-57) and R-2 (SS-79) between 1919 and 1921. He commanded the S-42 (SS-153) from 1924 to 1927 before assuming command of the V-5 (SC-1) in May 1930 until May of 1933.

Brown graduated from the Naval War College in 1940. He then became the Commanding Officer of the light cruiser Richmond (CL-9) 1941-1942. He then assumed command of Submarine Squadron Four in June 1942 until November 1943, serving under Rear Admiral Charles Lockwood in Pearl Harbor. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in January 1943. He was Commander Submarine Training Command from 1943 to 1945 where he was instrumental in creating the Submarine Lifeguard League that rescued pilots that were shot down in combat during WW II. He became a Vice Admiral upon retirement in February 1954.

His decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and two Legion of Merit awards.

Original AP Wire photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

USS V-5 is seen here on August 10, 1930 at Annapolis, Maryland entertaining visitors. The V-5 left the following day (Aug 11) for a cruise to the West Indies and returned to Portsmouth September 11, 1930.

There are several interesting features in this close up of the conning tower fairwater. A large awning has been erected to shade the boat from the summer heat. At this point V-5 did not yet have an air-conditioning plant. On the forward end of the fairwater the Narwhal had a gun access trunk that allowed crew access directly to the main deck for the gun crews. Just below the trunk hatch is a powered ammunition hoist. The 6-inch shells for the guns and their separate powder bags where too heavy to pass up from the magazine by hand. The power hoist greatly eased this chore and speeded up gun firing times. There was another hoist by the aft end of the fairwater on the starboard side. Just to the left of the hoist a visitor is standing on the ship's accommodation ladder with his hands on the rails. The ladder penetrated the deck and came out of the side of the superstructure, the doors for which are partially obscured by the small crowd on the pier. One of the huge 6"/53 caliber Mk 17 guns is visible on the right in the picture.

Image from an original negative in the private collection of Ric Hedman

V-5 was renamed Narwhal on February 19, 1931 and redesignated SS-167. In approximately 1935 she lost her original haze gray paint scheme in favor of the new flat black scheme now favored by the Navy. This photo shows her underway in the 1935-1939 time frame. She is sporting the N1 class identifier on the side of her fairwater. This would be replaced with her hull number (167) some time in 1939.

U.S. Navy photo NH 45651 courtesy of the NHHC.

This shows two of Narhwal's small boats moored between the Narhwal (left) and Bonita (SS-165) (right). These boats were carried below the walking decks outside the pressure hull. Location unknown, most likely San Diego, circa 1935. Narwhal has been renamed and repainted, but Bonita still carries her haze gray paint. This places the date during the transition to the black paint scheme in 1935.

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman

The morning of December 7, 1941 found Narwhal alongside the finger piers at Submarine Base Pearl Harbor. Gun crews on deck wait for Japanese planes to come close enough to fire on. Narwhal shared credit with several other ships for downing a Japanese torpedo bomber. Sailors on the dock wait with rifles to shoot at the attackers. One has fixed a bayonet.

U.S. Navy photo

Co-webmaster David Johnston took this photo of Narwhal's 6"/53 caliber Mk 17 guns preserved as a memorial outside of Morton Hall at Submarine Base New London, CT., March 2009.

Original photo by David Johnston

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