From PigBoats.COM

Introduction to the Dolphin (SS-169)

Without a doubt, Dolphin is the best documented submarine on PigBoats.COM. In addition to Ric's diligence over the years in collecting photos from various online sources, we have been the beneficiary of some rather tedious work by researchers Roger Torgeson and Tracy White. They spent hours in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and discovered several photo albums loaded with pictures of the Dolphin, which they painstakingly scanned and gifted to us. Many of the photos shown in the galleries below are a direct result of their efforts. PigBoats.COM would like to acknowledge their work in preserving our history and bringing these photographs into the present. Roger and Tracy have our eternal gratitude.

Roger had these comments in his email to us: "One of my finds was a box of images of the USS Dolphin V-7, SS-169 which appear to be the builder's album of photos which the 5th floor staff were kind enough to disassemble so I could make scans, the total number of scans I have come to 76 both interior and exterior." The National Archives staff really provided Roger with some great assistance and their willingness to help enabled us in getting these pictures. We would like to pass on to them our heartfelt thanks.

We have over 150 photos of the Dolphin at various points of her service. The sheer volume of photos has forced us to adopt a rather comprehensive organization plan, so that our readers will be able to find what they need. If you have questions about any of the photos, or if you can offer any further explanation of what is in the photos, do not hesitate to contact us.

Dolphin was a transitional submarine. The Navy, in its attempt to create a long range submarine to operate with the fleet, was pushing the boundaries of the technology of the day. The previous classes up through the S-class were harbor defense and coastal patrol designs and did not have the speed, range, or reliability needed to cruise with the Battle Fleet and operate as the eyes of the Navy. The first attempt was the short lived T-class, these three boats ultimately proved to be failures because the knowledge base and the manufacturing state of the art were not sufficient to provide those robust qualities, and with diesel engine technology still in its early development phase they did not have the necessary power and speed.

The follow-on V-class (of which Dolphin was a member) was an attempt to correct these issues. The first six boats were giants (compared to earlier classes) and while they had the requisite range they still suffered from many of the same problems that plagued the T-class.

Dolphin was originally named V-7, and she briefly carried the designations SF-10 and SC-3. This was all changed before she was launched and commissioned. She was an attempt to reign in the trend in gigantism shown in the earlier V-class boats. With rearranged interiors, better handling, and better engines the designers had unintentionally hit upon the nearly optimum combination of qualities that would lead almost 10 years later to the war winning Gato, Balao, and Tench class boats.

The intention to build more of the Dolphin version of the V-class was never carried out because limitations imposed by the London Treaty of 1930 made her still too large. The result was the construction of the last two of the authorized "V" class submarines, the smaller, lighter Cachalot (SS-170) and Cuttlefish (SS-171) at 1200 tons, versus the Dolphin at 1700 tons.

Several months of intensive research has gone into developing the captions and background information for these pages. Submarine technology has changed tremendously between the Dolphin's era and the time Dave and Ric were in the submarine Navy in the 60's, 70's and 80's. With all of the Dolphin's crew and the men who designed and built her long gone, much of her technology has been "forgotten" and it took the accumulated experience of the two of us, assisted by several other submarine veterans, to decipher and interpret the machinery and features in the photos. With all of that, many features remain open to further interpretation, and in some cases we were forced to speculate. If anyone can correct or update any of the information presented here we would welcome your assistance and you will be given full credit for your contributions.

We are proud to present these wonderful, high quality photos. Most of these photos have never been published before, hidden away from the public in an old section of the Archives. Many have not seen the light of day since they were taken in 1932 and 1933. That was 90+ years ago! We hope that you enjoy them.

Miscellaneous Construction and Operational Photos

In this section we have posted various external photos of Dolphin during her career. Some will be from the Torgeson and White collections, while others were collected by Ric over the years.

Click here for this section

1932 Sea Trials

This series of trials took place in the spring and summer of 1932 prior to her commissioning. They show Dolphin in her earliest form.

Click here for this section

1932 Drydocking

This series of photos was taken at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, ME. All were taken on September 30, 1932. These photos were quite revelatory to the PigBoats staff, as they showed that welding had been incorporated into submarine construction much earlier than previously thought.

Click here for this section

1933 Exterior photos at Portsmouth

Following her builder's trials and commissioning, the Dolphin embarked on her initial post-commissioning shake down cruise. This cruise showed that a few important changes and updates were needed, so she returned to Portsmouth in the summer of 1933 for additional work. These photos were taken at the conclusion of that yard period, giving a very detailed view of her exterior configuration.

Click here for this section

Interior photos

This is an extensive series of photos that thoroughly document the interior of the Dolphin. All were taken between in 1933. The photos will be arranged by compartment, listed forward to aft.

Click here for this section

Screenshots from movie "Submarine D-1" of 1937

This is a series of screenshots from the 1937 Warner Brothers movie "Submarine D-1", starring Pat O'Brien, George Brent, and Wayne Morris. Dolphin was featured prominently in the movie, with many of the exterior shots filmed aboard her. The interior shots were mostly done on a set and are not representative of the boat's real interior. The movie is not high art, but it is entertaining if you like movies from this period, and it is a great tip of the hat to the Navy and the Submarine Service of the 1930's Pigboat era. See the IMDB entry here. The film was produced by Cosmopolitan Productions and distributed by Warner Bros.

Click here for this section

Return to the V-class page | 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