From PigBoats.COM

Design, Construction, and Naming Notes

The three D-class harbor defense submarines were built to an Electric Boat Company Design at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, MA. They were enlarged C-class boats, and for the first time in a U.S. submarine, the internal space was divided by watertight bulkheads, making these boats more survivable. Narwhal and Grayling had four compartments (torpedo room, forward battery/berthing & control room, after battery/messing, and engine room. Salmon was fitted with only two bulkheads, leaving one large compartment in the middle that made up the forward battery, control room, and after battery. This was done to allow space for a new walk-around periscope, a big improvement over the fixed eyepiece units of the previous boats. All three boats were commissioned in the Navy with their original "fish" names. On November 17, 1911 the Navy changed its naming convention for submarines and these boats were renamed with their D-class names. They had their original general submarine series designations changed to the SS series on July 17, 1920.

Narwhal/D-1 (Submarine No. 17, later SS-17)

Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman.
Photo of the D-1 in transit on the surface, location not known for sure but suspected to be off the New England shore. The date is approximately 1911-1912. The purpose of the truss-like structure on the fore deck is not known. It is possibly the disassembled pipe frame of the temporary bridge structure. The deck cover over the Torpedo Loading Hatch is partly open and resting on the objects. The man who is the highest on the bridge is the helmsman steering the submarine from a helm wheel mounted to the aft side of the periscope shears. Quite possibly the Captain and the Officer of the Deck just behind the helmsman. There is a bit of the swell running as the D-1 noses into a wave.

See More D-1 photos

Grayling/D-2 (Submarine No. 18, later SS-18)

National Archives photo
National Archives photo
A fine shot of the Grayling underway, most likely in the Cape Cod, MA. area, approximately 1910-1911. This photo was definitely taken between her commissioning in on November 23, 1909 and November 17, 1911 when she was renamed D-2. All three of her deck hatches are open, the Allied Signal Bell (used for underwater communications) is on the forward deck, and a temporary pipe frame & canvas bridge structure has been erected on the fairwater aft of the periscopes. The two sailors on the forward deck are readying to send and receive semaphore flag signals, possibly to a supporting surface craft.

See More D-2 photos

Salmon/D-3 (Submarine No. 19, later SS-19)

Photo courtesy of Wendy Gulley at the Submarine Force Library & Museum
Photo courtesy of Wendy Gulley at the Submarine Force Library & Museum
Salmon moored at an unknown location, sometime between September 8, 1910 and November 17, 1911. The D-class boats were the last of the EB designs built without bow diving planes. The growing size of the boats made horizontal depth control while submerged much more difficult. Bow planes provided precise depth control, overriding the increasing hydrodynamic effect that the longer hulls had.

See More D-3 photos

General D-class photos

Photo courtesy of Wendy Gulley at the Submarine Force Library & Museum
Photo courtesy of Wendy Gulley at the Submarine Force Library & Museum
Left to right is D-2, D-3 and D-1, along with their near sister E-2 (2nd from right) at a pier somewhere near New York City, approximately 1915. On the far left is another submarine, possibly E-1. The E-class submarines were essentially diesel powered D-boats with bow planes, and thus the two classes frequently operated together.

See more General D-class photos.

Return to the Submarine Classes page

Page created by:
Ric Hedman & David Johnston
1999 - 2023 - PigBoats.COM©
Mountlake Terrace, WA, Norfolk, VA
webmaster at pigboats dot com