4th Of July Boat

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The 4th Of July Boat

USS O-7 (SS-68) 'The 4th Of July Boat'

Laid down, February 14, 1917, at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, MA.
Launched, December 16, 1917
Commissioned, USS O-7, July 4, 1918
Designated (SS-68), July 17, 1920
Reclassified a 2nd line submarine July 25, 1924 and to a 1st line submarine, June 6, 1928
Decommissioned, July 1, 1931, at Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet
Recommissioned, February 12, 1941, at Philadelphia
Decommissioned, July 2, 1945; (26 years 363 days)
Struck from the Naval Register, July 11, 1945; (27 years 7 days)
Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, January 22, 1946, to North American Smelting Co., Philadelphia, PA.
Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - November - Charlie

The USS O-7 is seen at left with the USS Constitution, 'Old Iron Sides', on an undisclosed holiday, perhaps Navy Day, there are lots of people on the pier.

USS O-7 (SS-68), an O-class submarine, of the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down on at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on December 16, 1917 sponsored by Mrs. Constance Sears,

Her penchant for holidays was notable at the beginning, her keel being laid on Valentines Day 1917. Her commissioning on July 4, 1918 with Lieutenant Commander F. C. Sherman, in command. What better way to enter into service in the US Navy.

It turned out this was the final stages of World War I, O-7 was operating out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on coastal patrol from Cape Cod to Key West, Florida looking for German U-boats.

It was decided that the US needed to send more submarines into the eastern Atlantic to hunt the German submarines trying to prey on Allied shipping taking men and supplies to Europe. On November 2, 1918 the O-7 departed Newport, Rhode Island, in a 20-sub contingent bound for those European waters, however, 9 days later the Armistice with Germany was signed before the ships reached the Azores. The flotilla turned about and returned to the United States.

Some of these subs were the USS O-3, O-4, O-5, O-6, O-7, O-8, O-9, and O-10. The USS L-8 is known to have arrived in Bermuda two days after WWI ended. It is not known if she sailed with the O-7 and others. Who the other 11 submarines were has not yet been discovered.

Upon the return there was a gathering of O-boats, the O-7 may have been there too, at the Charleston Navy Yard, South Carolina, Christmas Time 1918. The vessels there had holiday greenery displayed on the decks, lashed to masts and submarine superstructures. There may have been colored lights to show the festive season at night.

In 1919, O-7 received orders and reported to the newly established Submarine School at New London, Connecticut, to train sailors for the submarine service for the next decade. The school was on the Submarine Base in Groton.

During one of these training missions on March 2, 1921 the O-7 ran aground off Fishers Island. The incident made it into the newspapers all across the country. She was operating with the USS O-8 who also grounded in the general operating area but her story wasn't followed like the O-7.

This report in the Norwich Bulletin reported on the incident on March 4, 1921...;
“Two submarines, the O-7 and the O-8, reported by wireless tonight that they were in need of assistance. The O-8 is ashore between Penikese and Gull islands in Buzzards Bay and the O-7 is in distress about 3 miles east of Race Rock, (near) Wilderness Point, (Fishers Island) in Long Island Sound. The trouble is not known.

The O-8 had gone ashore about one mile from the Cuttyhunk Coast Guard Station the message said. A Coast Guard cutter was standing along side and she was expected to float at midnight. The message indicated the submarine was in no immediate danger.

A wireless message to the O-7 picked up here said that Eagle boat No. 33 from New London, was going to her assistance. A tug was also leaving from New York. The O-7 replied In a message that no additional help would be needed. This was taken to Indicate that neither the submarine nor her crew were in immediate danger.

On August 16, 1921 nine of ten O-boats operating from the O-7's submarine division, were gathered at the Boston Navy Yard, at Charlestown, Massachusetts. The submarines were photographed at that time. Along with the submarines the tender USS Savannah (AS-8), once the SS Saxonia, the finest German passenger ship afloat is now a mother for this group of United States submarines.

By 1923 the O-7 has been transferred to the US Submarine base at Coco Solo, Panama for duty patrolling the canal and locks. She was there on October 28, 1923 as USS O-5 entered Limon Bay, preparatory to transiting the Panama Canal, she was rammed by the United Fruit Company steamer Abangarez and sank in less than a minute. Three men died, 16 others escaped. The O-7 stood by during the rescue operations.

In 1924, she went to Coco Solo for maneuvers and was reclassified a second line submarine on July 25, 1924. Returning to New London, she reverted to first line on June 6, 1928.

In January 1930, she joined her sister ships in a run to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, thence back to New London in February. After returning from Washington, DC. in July, she continued operations at New London. She sailed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 23, 1931 and decommissioned there on July 1, 1931.

After a decade in mothballs, O-7 was recalled to active duty and refitted and recommissioned at Philadelphia February 12, 1941. She then reported to New London in May and trained sub crews there until the end of World War II.

O-7 was decommissioned on July 2, 1945; was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on July 11, 1945; and sold to North American Smelting Company of Philadelphia on January 22, 1946.

There ended the life and career of the 'The 4th Of July Boat' at age of 27 years 7 days.

Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

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